Scarsdalian Breaks Guinness World Record to Inspire Other Athletes With Epilepsy

Scarsdalian Breaks Guinness World Record to Inspire Other Athletes With Epilepsy

Rowan Haffner with his trainer Jeff BoyerIt’s not often people see a Guinness World Record find a new home, but on August 13 at SUNY Purchase, the prestigious award for most sprint duathlons completed in 24 hours was broken by Rowan Haffner. The motive for running 45 miles and biking 108 miles (yes, an 18 year old did that) is best described by Haffner.

He explained: “The whole motivation behind the goal of setting a world record was to create awareness of what athletes with epilepsy are capable of. Due to the natural limitations that life with epilepsy can bring, very few people with epilepsy participate in endurance events. I wanted to demonstrate not only that a person with epilepsy could succeed and finish such a tough race, but to show that a person with epilepsy could be the best in the world at something. I hope others can see what I have done and helped pave the way for future epileptics to dive into endurance sports and challenge themselves and not let the epilepsy limit their ambitions.

Jeff Boyer, Haffner’s trainer at the Barracuda Tri, explained how preparing for the event is no less strenuous than one might expect, which makes the accomplishment all the more remarkable.

“Let’s say he wasn’t training specifically for this when he was diagnosed with epilepsy in November 2021,” Boyer said. “It kind of took fast, legal racing out of his repertoire. It was then that I succumbed to training for a long internship like this. He signed up for Iron Man Lake Placid which was three weekends ago, and we started training for that in January, and that training helped with that as well.

For context, Boyer estimated that a “typical Iron Man athlete” would need nearly a month to recover from the Lake Placid event before even considering attempting to break that world record. It’s just another of the seemingly countless reasons why, when the final stages were reached, it’s no wonder the wave of emotions hit Haffner hard.

“When I finished, I was immediately flooded with feelings of relief, enormous fatigue, but above all pride. It was a goal I set myself months ago, a goal that required up to 20 hours of training per week to be achieved and so to see that come to fruition was emotional and truly amazing.Rowan bike

The previous record for most sprint duathlons completed in 24 hours was nine complete sets. A full sprint duathlon includes a 5k run, followed by a 20k bike segment, followed by a 2.5k run. Then the cycle repeats. Haffner tied the old record at nine complete sets, and he determined he had enough gas left in the tank to beat it by completing another 5k run. After nearly 2 full marathons of running (and enough cycling to get from Scarsdale to Philadelphia), record certifier Russ Gold was able to confirm that Haffner had indeed gotten into what he wanted to do: he showed how someone with epilepsy can be the best in the world at something with flying colors – even in an intense field of sport. The message is worth infinitely more than the Guinness World Record – although the accolade makes the achievement tangible and unchallenged.

Gold, a decorated triathlon/duathlon coach and official, acknowledged the uniqueness and rigor of the feat, saying he wouldn’t be at all shocked if it was the only time he was asked to verify the record. of the world. Boyer added: “It takes a certain person to do something like that. Not so much to say they want to do something like this, but to put in the work and do it. It takes a certain mindset, determination, self-motivation to do something like that.

No matter how impressive the feat was – even in the minds of experts – Rowan is far from over.

“It’s hard to think about what’s next given that I always want to go beyond my previous accomplishments,” Haffner admitted. “It is this state of mind that led me to set a world record. Still, I’m still looking for what can be crazier than setting a 19-hour world record. That being said, knowing me, I will soon find something even crazier to do that is even harder than I could imagine.

Ready to be part of Duke’s club triathlon team, the training never stops. As Boyer memorably put it, “It’s Rowan’s madness.” Fortunately, his “crazy” led him to be the best in the world, portraying the exact message he wanted to inspire in people. Epilepsy could not prevent him from being the best.


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