April 5, 2013
SPRINGFIELD – For many people, running a mile is a tedious task. Trying to run that mile in under 6 minutes and 17 seconds is even tougher. Now, imagine trying to run a mile in 6:17 or less and juggling at the same time. If you’re Missouri State distance runner Emily Beaver, you say “Why not?”
“I just got to thinking, I’m pretty good at running, and I’m pretty good at juggling,” Beaver said. “So, I thought why not see what the record is for doing both at the same time?”
According to Guinness World Records, the fastest mile run while ‘”joggling,” the term for running and juggling simultaneously, is 6:17 with three objects. That record has stood since July 22, 1989 when Kathy Glynn set it in Baltimore, Md. Beaver, a senior majoring in English education, will attempt to break that record by the end of the semester.
Beaver said she chose the mile run for her record attempt because she thought it was a realistic goal to shoot for as well as being her favorite distance.
Beaver’s next attempt at the record will be her second. She thought she had already broken the record, as her first attempt last September resulted in a time of 5 minutes and 45 seconds.
However, her attempt was disqualified by Guinness because she ran 1,600 meters, while Guinness recognizes an official mile at 1,609 meters. Her second attempt will cover those additional nine meters.
Beaver said she mainly restricts herself to juggling small bean bags and other similar soft objects while running, and rarely more than three at a time. This is so she can keep stride while maintaining her juggling concentration, as juggling in itself is a challenge.
“Joggling is interesting because it sounds harder than it is,” Beaver said, noting that the arm motion a person naturally makes while running is similar to the arm motion required to juggle.
“When I started, it was surprisingly intuitive,” she said. “I automatically knew what to do and how far to throw them ahead of me. The rhythm is fun and I enjoy doing something that looks cool.”
Beaver has juggled since the eighth grade. She first discovered the skill in a P.E. class at school, and she has perfected her craft every summer since at a camp near Lake of the Ozarks. She now goes back every summer teaching campers how to juggle, and plans to do the same this summer.
She doesn’t get too adventurous with her juggling, Beaver said. She can juggle anything round, including fruit, but never more than four at a time, and only three while running. So don’t expect to see her juggling chainsaws in the future.
To put in perspective just how difficult it is to try to joggle for a mile in just over 6 minutes, the average mile run for experienced runners is between 5 and 5 ½ minutes, according to Beaver. That’s just running, without juggling. Her personal best in the event came at the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Championship. Beaver clocked a time of 4:54.16, helping the Bears claim the MVC Indoor title.
She has carved out quite a career at Missouri State as she enters the home stretch of her senior year, both athletically and in the classroom. Beaver has competed in both track and cross country, and has been named to the MVC Scholar-Athlete Team in both sports every season since arriving as a freshman in 2009. In addition, she was named all-conference in cross country for the 2011 season, and earned a spot on the MVC Honor Roll.
The three-time state high school cross country champion at College Heights Christian School in Joplin, Mo. was also honored with the prestigious MVC Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award for 2011-12, and has been named to the Missouri State Athletics Director’s Honor Roll four times.
She is on track to graduate after completing her student teaching this fall, and plans to teach high school English.
Beaver said she does not plan to continue competitive running beyond her MSU career, so she knows she is down to her last few races as her team competes in the outdoor season. As she nears the end of her racing career, Beaver is ready to joggle her way into the record books.