‘Joggling’ sensation Joe Salter runs marathons backwards while juggling

What do you get if you pair jogging and juggling? The answer is joggling, and yes — that is a word.

Joe Salter crossed the finish line on Sept. 22 of his biggest athletic achievement yet: the Quad Cities Marathon in Illinois, which he ran backwards while juggling.

“As far as a physical and mental challenge, the backwards marathon juggling was the biggest because the training was mentally and physically exhausting,” he told Metro, and we believe him.

Salter ran the marathon in 5 hours and 51 minutes, which was a bit slower than his goal due to rough roads. Normally, he runs alone and turns his head every 10 seconds, but at this marathon, he brought a whole team to be his third eye.

“I had great people supporting me,” he said. “I had a biker film the whole thing. He was my go-to guy, my pack mule. We were constantly communicating the whole way through. [We had] a little system we came up with to alert me about different things behind me.”

“I actually got motion sick because I wasn’t used to never turning around,” he added. “And going almost six hours backwards without ever looking behind kind of played with my equilibrium a little bit.”

Salter did 62,000 juggling throws during the marathon (three per second, minus some water breaks – you do the math) and dropped the balls only twice after mile 23, due to potholes.

Juggling has been a passion for Salter since he was a kid and grew up with a father who was an entertainer. He started running, and when he found out about joggling seven years ago it was the beginning of what turned out to be both a personal and professional path.

“A broader goal is to use this to motivate and inspire kids, adults and companies to overcome challenges,” Salter said. “Juggling in itself is just a model for learning, for overcoming mistakes, for not giving up, for setting goals and being in balance. Obviously, you overcoming drops is a metaphor for anything.”

Salter has a psychology background and experience teaching, motivating and helping people with mental health problems. In his motivational speeches, Salter gives examples from his own training for the triathlon and the marathon and gives examples of how people can apply what he has learned. For Salter, joggling is a mind-body exercise.

“It’s like a moving meditation,” he explained. “So it’s more than just for the fun and ‘oh, look at me’-attention. But obviously it has a wow factor to it and I like sharing that wow factor with others.”

Besides running the Quad Cities Marathon, Salter has run multiple forward-facing marathons while juggling, swim-juggled in the Gulf of Mexico and was the first in the world to complete a triathlon while juggling.

Salter’s hobby takes him everywhere from schools to the screen. In 2012 after his triathlon, he got head-hunted for a talent show in South Korea after being spotted on YouTube. Alongside pop singers and celebrities, he juggled everything from chickens to bowling balls.

Joe Salter, marathon, juggler
Joe Salter, 32, from Pensacola, Fla., runs backwards while juggling three balls down the I-74 Bridge into Bettendorf during the 2013 Quad Cities Marathon on Sept. 22, 2013.

 


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