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Posts Tagged ‘marathon’

I, For One, Welcome Our Marathon-running Robot Overlords

February 24, 2011 1 comment

It has been a bad couple of weeks for humans.

With Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter getting defeated quite easily by IBM’s supercomputer ‘Watson‘ at a game of ‘Jeopardy!’, mankind is on the ropes to robots.

Undated handout photo of Jeopardy! contestants Ken Jennings (second from left) and Brad Rutter (right) — shown with host Alex Trebek — as they prepare to play the supercomputer Watson.

Photograph by: Jeopardy Productions, Inc., Handout

Now, robots are not only starting to make ground against humans in games of intellect, but also in physical activity.

The first ever robot marathon, called the Robomarafull event, has kicked off today in Osaka, Japan. The race contestants are 5 knee-high “athletes” which will traverse the full 26 miles (42 km) of a marathon on an indoor track.

Finishing the race will involve circling the track 423 times and is expected to take about 4 days. Since the current world record for running a marathon is 2 hours, 3 minutes and 39 seconds for a (human) male and 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds for a (human) female, the robots still have a ways to go.

The rules of the race allow robot operators to change the motors and batteries of their contestants, but they cannot help the robot get back on its feet if it falls.

Since the race is going to take 4 days, it’s not so much about speed but endurance. As such, it is always important to train and stretch…

What Would Happen if You Ran 45 Miles Everyday for 2 Months?

December 1, 2010 1 comment

Route of one TransEurope Footrace. Click to enlarge.

And I get proud of myself when I run 3 or 4 miles. This sure is humbling…

But running 2,800 miles (4,500 km) in 2 months is exactly what a group of a few dozen “Ultramarathoners” do every few years in Europe. Its called the TransEurope Footrace, and I am in awe.

Last year, 44 of the 66 participants in this race allowed themselves to be medically examined through the course of the race, to find out exactly what happens to people who exert themselves this way.

The results were presented at the Radiological Society of North American meeting in Chicago this week. The study was entitled: Longitudinal Follow-up of Changes of Body Tissue Composition in Ultra-Endurance Runners during 4.500 km Trans Europe Foot Race 2009 Measured by Whole-Body MR Imaging on a Mobile MR Imaging Truck-trailer. (Yes, the same conference that had the acupuncture presentation I wrote about yesterday.)

So they followed these runners around with an MRI machine in their truck (!) and through the course of the race took 6 full body scans of the runners and measured their body fat content and muscle volume. The results?

We found muscle mass catabolism also in the exposed muscles of the leg. This occurs in every subject. Over all nearly 34% of nonvisceral body fat has been gone after the race. But there was nearly 20% of visceral fat loss, also.

So they found that 7% of muscle mass in the leg was lost through the course of the race as well.

I’m not sure whats more impressive about this study: that they ran 4,500 km, or that they followed them with a friggin’ MRI machine in a friggin’ truck!