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article imageRunning the Boston Marathon in Orbit

By Kyle Pallanik     Apr 18, 2007 in Technology
While Marathon runners in Boston got ready for the event, bundled up in the chilly weather, Astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams joined them from space, this morning, running on a treadmill in orbit in the balmy contained environment of the space station.
210 miles above the Earth, in the space station, when Suni started the race at 10 a.m EDT, she was already hurtling at 17,500 mph.
To feel a part of the race, two laptop computers were fixed on either side of the treadmill, one would allow her to watch a live feed of the race from Boston, while the other keeps track of the space station's location.
With contestant number 14,000 taped to the front of the treadmill, Williams was strapped into a harness so that she wouldn't float away in the zero gravity environment.
She started at a quick pace for the beginning of the 26.2 mile race, while her sister Dina Pandya and fellow astronaut Karen Nyberg were far below, competing in the ground race. Unlike them, she was able to wear a t-shirt and shorts, with no wind and rain to contend with.
She qualified for the race back in January, with a time of 3 hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds. She joked that she was more likely to survive the race than the treadmill, saying that it had its share of breakdowns in the past.
"Marathons are hard on the body," she said. "It's hard on the machine. I hope both of us survive."
A few minutes into the race, Mission control joked to her crew mate Michael Lopez-Alegria that she had already completed her 26 miles, referring to the relative speed of the space station travelling in orbit.
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