Plenty of People Run in Central Park. Just Not Like This

Oz Pearlman logged a record 116 miles in a single day
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2022 9:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – The New York City Marathon ends in Central Park. Oz Pearlman's April 8 run started and ended there—but the time between those two points, and the distance covered, was pretty epic. The New York Times reports the 39-year-old Brooklynite set out to get the "Fastest Known Time" in Central Park. As the Fastest Known Time website explains, that means running the park's six-mile loop, which the longtime runner describes as his "comfort zone," as many times as possible during the 18 hours and 50 minutes the park's roads are open to runners. Getting the FKT would mean breaking the 2021 record of 98 miles, or 16 loops of the park, set by Robbie Balenger.

Pearlman goes by the stage name Oz the Mentalist; you might know him as the 2015 third-place finisher on America's Got Talent. He's also a pretty serious runner: a multi-year winner of the New Jersey and Hamptons Marathons, with a personal record of 2:23 that isn't far off of the male qualifying time for Olympic trials, notes the Times. It showed in his Central Park run: He hit Balenger's distance about four hours quicker than Balenger did. He finished the necessary additional loop about 55 minutes later, meaning he completed 17 laps, or 102 miles, in 15 hours and 10 minutes. It was a new Central Park Loop Challenge FKT. Oz, though, wasn't done running.

Prodded on by his pacers, he kept going, finishing with a total of 19 loops. That's 116 miles. His final time? 17:40:59. He didn't do it just for the glory. The Forward reports he raised money for Ukraine, with $115,000 going to Save the Children. One other interesting note from the Forward: The Central Park run wasn't the longest he's gone. In 2012 he ran Greece's 153-mile Spartathlon, dubbed "the world’s most grueling race." It took him more than 33 hours to finish. (Read another wild story of ultrarunning.)

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