High in the skies over Canberra (Australia) in May 2012 Rob Ginnivan achieved a world’s first by running half a marathon on a treadmill while flying in a hot air balloon. The IT worker and entrepreneur ran the 21km, on a treadmill, in a hot air balloon, as part of a campaign to raise money for the Heart Foundation and awareness of heart health.

hot air balloon half marathon

The act was the final component in Ginnivan’s endeavor to raise $100,000 for the Heart Foundation by running in the air, on land and at sea, the Canberra Times reported. Last year, Ginnivan ran a land marathon in Morocco, and an ultra-marathon while aboard a ship.

Having run 18 marathons on the continents of Africa, Asia, Australia, North America, South America and Europe and numerous half marathons, Rob decided to take running to another level with his feats on the sea and in the air to raise money for the Heart Foundation in the fight against cardiovascular disease.


Ultra-Marathon on a Ship at Sea

In 2011 Ginnivan boarded the Pacific Sun, a ship from P&O Cruises for another world’s first: to run an ultra-marathon on open sea.

The cruise ship was anything but cruisy for Canberra man, Rob Ginnivan, as he ran 419 laps of the ship in his quest to complete a 50km ultra-marathon at sea. The onboard feat took Rob just over four hours, buoyed by the support of passengers and crew.

Ginnivan, 46, said it didn’t take too long to get his sea legs running around Deck 11 of the cruise ship as it headed out en route to New Caledonia.

”I soon got into a steady rhythm negotiating the sway of the sea from side to side – a bit like a drunken sailor – and picked up the pace as I ran the first 100 laps clockwise. My right knee started to ache so I changed direction to anti-clockwise for the rest of the ultra marathon,” he said.

Ultra marathon at ship at sea

Ginnivan started his run soon after 6am and completed it just over four hours later. A few announcements by the cruise director over the loudspeaker soon had a crowd following his every step – or at least peering up from their sun lounges.

”Among the many great supporters were an eight-year-old boy who ran two laps with me and gave me a $5 note donation for the Heart Foundation, a woman who jogged 10 laps with me who said she is now inspired to become a runner and a man who had a heart attack two years ago and is getting fit with walking and jogging,” he said.

”Four hours and 10 minutes later I stopped running, spent, and satisfied that another good run was finished in aid of a meaningful cause – the fight against heart disease.”Ultra marathon at ship at sea1


Hot Air Balloon Half-Marathon
The day before his 47th birthday, the Australian ran 13 miles while inside a hot air balloon, according to ABC News 9. Ginnivan accomplished the stunt using a treadmill powered by a small generator as the balloon drifted above Canberra, Australia’s capital city.

“It went really, really well, we went all around Canberra,” he said. “What a feeling.”

The hot air balloon took off in Narrabundah soon after 7am, setting down in a paddock near Fraser just before 10 am.
A veteran of 18 marathons on six continents, Ginnivan said that the biggest challenge of running in midair would be taking small steps when he was used to being able to stride out.

balloon running

“It is a bit cold, but I think once I get on the treadmill and the flame fires up, I’ll be fine,” he said.

Ginnivan said he first thought of attempting a mid-air half marathon in 27 May 2011, when he and wife Kristen took a hot air balloon ride to celebrate their 21st wedding anniversary.

“While I was up there I had the ‘ah-ha’ moment that maybe a treadmill might fit in here, and I could run a half marathon,” he said.hot air balloon half marathon1

Although the hot air balloon portion was the shortest distance of his Land, Sea and Air challenge it was by no means the easiest. The veteran marathon runner said that the tilt of the balloon’s basket simulated the experience of running uphill. He also noted that “the basket would sway from left to right” creating an experience that “was quite bizarre,”according to the Telegraph.

Though the odd conditions contributed to leg cramps during the final portion of the run, Ginnivan ultimately completed the half-marathon in 2 hours and 18 minutes,about twice as long as it would have taken him on land.

Rob nonetheless became the first person in the world to run a marathon on land, an ultra-marathon at sea and a half-marathon in the air.


Sources: 9news.com, huffingtonpost.com, canberratimes.com.au, pocruises.com.au