April 16, 2007 / 7:47 PM / 12 years ago

U.S. woman first to run Boston marathon in orbit

BOSTON (Reuters) - An American astronaut became the first person to run the Boston Marathon in space on Monday, completing the 26.2 miles on a treadmill in the orbiting International Space Station.

The International Space Station orbits the Earth in this view from NASA TV December 13, 2006. An American astronaut became the first person to run the Boston Marathon in space on Monday, completing the 26.2 miles on a treadmill in the orbiting International Space Station. REUTERS/NASA TV

Suni Williams, who was an official entrant in the race, took four hours 23 minutes 46 seconds, said John Yembrick, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

On Earth, Williams has run marathons in about 3-1/2 hours.

Williams said in a media briefing early this month: “Just the fact that I’m running that much slower is going to be a little bit tedious because it’s going to be a long time on the treadmill.”

Race officials were not able to calculate her finishing spot immediately, but based on last year’s results, she would be ranked at about 6,300th place among about 7,600 women runners.

Williams ran in steady 75 degree Fahrenheit (23.8 Celsius) temperatures in the still air of the space station.

She faced very different conditions from the frigid rain, 50 mph (80 kph) maximum wind gusts and 50 degree Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) temperatures handled by her earthbound competitors.

While many of the athletes complained that the weather conditions made for a slow, uncomfortable race, Lidiya Grigoryeva, the women’s champion, said she’d been ready for it.

“During the training in Russia, the weather conditions were similar to the conditions today,” Grigoryeva, told reporters after the race.

Williams, 41, who considers Needham, Massachusetts, her hometown, qualified for the race by finishing among the top 100 women in the 2006 Houston Marathon.

She has been in orbit since December and has trained on a specially modified treadmill.

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