HHS alum sets world mile record, backward style

Aaron Yoder, the new Guinness world record holder for the backward mile, carved out a legacy of success while running forward at Hillsboro High School and Fort Hays State University.You could say Aaron Yoder was somewhat backward during his youth, but now his most recent accomplishments in that direction has achieved him notoriety.

The 2004 Hillsboro High School alum carved out a school in long-distance running as a Trojan, but now he?s earned a world record running long distance backward.

The Peabody and Hills?boro product was notified last week by Guinness World Book of Records that he is the official title holder for the Fastest Run Backward, One Mile. His record time of 5 minutes 54.25 seconds, achieved Nov. 23 on the Bethany College track in Linds?borg, eclipsed the previous Guinness record of 6:02.

The accomplished was recorded by photographer Jim Turner of Lindsborg and posted on YouTube.

?Jim was truly the mastermind behind this endeavor,? Yoder said. ?He did all the legwork with the technology and administration of the evidence.?

Despite recent interviews with various local and regional media, the competitive but humble Yoder?now head coach of cross country and track field and an instructor in health and physical education at Bethany?reflected on his achievement just as you?d expect he would.

?Just because you have the world record doesn?t mean you?re the best in the world,? he said. ?Maybe it?s just the best recorded time.

?But it?s kind of a fun thing to think about. Who else is doing this? Are they getting the same satisfaction out of doing it as I am??

A backward history

Yoder said he has been intrigued with running backward for a long time. He began doing it already in middle and high school as a way to stay in shape, particularly for winter training.

?Mainly at home is where I kind of looked into it to see if there was actually something about it?then my mom would ride her bicycle beside me when I would do backward runs,? Yoder said ?At that point, it was kind of a way to stay in shape for other sports and get a better workout.?

Yoder became aware of competitive backward running during his middle school years by reading articles in Runners World about the exploits of Timo?thy ?Bud? Badyna, who ran entire marathons backward.

Like Badyna, Yoder is convinced of the health and fitness benefits of running backward.

?From my own experience and the research I?ve done, it sounds as if the backward route is the way to go,? he said. ?It?s great for the core, it?s great for balance.

?Studies are showing it?s good for the brain because you?re running backward and can?t see behind you, so it activates that right side of the brain?the creative side?because you?re using a mental image of what may be behind you.

?All your other senses are heightened because you?re relying on your hearing and even your smelling,? he said. ?You?re truly relying on everything but your vision.?

Olympic dreams

Following a successful running career at Fort Hays State University, Yoder?s personal running goal was to qualify for the Olympic trials, and possibly run in the Games.

?That was the focus for so long, and having to deal with failure after failure as a forward-running athlete?I got down close to 4 minutes,? he said. ?But the reality is if I was to run under 4 minutes for a mile?which I still would like to do?I probably wouldn?t even make the Olympic trials in America. A lot of college and even high school runners are doing it.?

Yoder sees achieving the Guinness record as helpful for what he really wants to accomplish.

?The press (attention) has been exciting, but it really boosts my dream of promoting health and getting people excited about exercise and getting in shape,? he said.

Setting a world record, even if it?s temporary, will give him some ?cele?brity credibility? that modern culture seems to require.

But he has another personal agenda, too.

?I want to be an advocate for all those places that gave me those opportunities to know that I could be the best, because I had great coaches and, above all else, great parents and brothers,? he said.

His Olympic dream hasn?t totally died, but the direction may be backward from his original intent.

?I sure want to be an advocate for new Olympic sports and events,? he said. ?Obvi?ously, I would have to qualify (running backward), and there would be other people training hard for it.

?But the nice thing is having the record first.?

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