LINDSBORG —Bethany College cross country and track and field coach Aaron Yoder recently set the Guinness World Record for the fastest mile — backwards.
On Nov. 23, Yoder ran a mile backwards in 5 minutes and 54.25 seconds.
Yoder finished his second season as the head cross country coach and is in his first year as the indoor and outdoor track and field head position. However, as a former collegiate athlete, running at Fort Hays from 2004-2009, Yoder continues to set goals for himself to achieve, while helping his athletes set and achieve their own.
When Yoder was in high school he found that in the winter his treadmill was not fast enough for him to train effectively, so he decided to start running backward. Yoder did not exclusively train backwards, but it was a good change of training to keep his mind and body refreshed.
"As a child my parents always supported the ideas and activities that I pursued which made this endeavor possible. I would research all sorts of running world records and at one point found the backwards American and world records," Yoder said. "It wasn't until this past fall that I decided to train exclusively backwards and see where that went. Training forwards was and will always be a great passion of mine, but I also realized that there are alternate ways to train and exercise. I just happen really enjoy the backwards aspect and the challenge it provides. Running under six minutes became a goal because that was the former world record and it gave me something to shoot for. Change was refreshing and fun.”
Yoder has always been a goal-oriented person. Whether as a runner or coach he is always setting new benchmarks to achieve. He hopes that eventually backwards running will be added as an Olympic event. However, for now he is set to run in July at the World Championships.
"I have always been a goal-oriented individual and this backwards running provides a lot of future opportunity and experiences,” Yoder said. “My overall goal is to see the activity added to be an Olympic event, and then qualify to represent the United States of America. I also am going for a 4:59 mile on the track in the near future. In the immediate future, I will competing at the World Championships this summer in Essen, Germany, during mid-July, where I will look to capture a world title. Lastly, the next Guinness Record I would look to break is the 200m; try my hand in sprinting which would be a great preparation for Worlds.”
Yoder has been an assistant with the track and field team for six years, and has helped other programs in their offseason conditioning workouts. He has also served as the Staff Senate President for the past two years and is currently a member.
Yoder is a 2009 graduate of Fort Hays State University, where he majored in Health and Human Performance with an emphasis in Health Promotions and Wellness and a minor in Business Administration. He completed his master's degree in Sport and Movement Studies through Fort Hays in December 2010. He also served as vice president for the National Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa.