How to Win Free Sneakers by Running a Marathon

With fall marathon season kicking off in October, an upstart fitness app has issued a challenge to runners: Run fast and you could win a free pair of sneakers.

In partnering with New Balance, fitness app Strava has announced the “Back-Half Challenge.” The concept is simple — runners will need to complete a negative split, which means finishing the second half of a race with a better time than the first.

Per Strava’s data, less than 5 percent of runners in the 2015 Boston Marathon and 2015 New York Marathon were able to complete the daunting task. On the flip side, completing a negative split appears to be a major key to success for runners. The current men’s and women’s marathon world-record holders both ran negative splits, as did all six marathon medalists at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

New Balance 3D Printed Midsole Running Shoe
The New Balance 3D printed midsole running shoe arrives in April 2016.
CREDIT: Courtesy of New Balance

While it may sound simple enough on paper, runners who have completed the negative split say that it requires intense training and careful strategizing. “It takes mental willpower to run a controlled, smart first half and mental toughness to pick up the pace in the latter half,” said 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials marathon qualifier Michelle Meyer in a statement.

If you think you have what it takes, you’ll need to sign up for a USATF-certified marathon between Oct. 9 and Dec. 4 and use the Strava app to upload your activity. Eligible winners will receive a free pair of New Balance sneakers. More information and rules can be viewed on Strava’s blog.

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