SCIENCE
04/15/2016 04:14 am ET

Astronaut Tim Peake Is Ready To Run The London Marathon From Space -- And You Can Join Him

The Briton will be using RunSocial, an app that'll let him interact with runners on Earth.

Come April 24, British astronaut Tim Peake, along with approximately 38,000 other runners, will be attempting the 26.2-mile London Marathon.

The only difference is, Peake will be running the race about 250 miles above everybody else -- in space.

Aiming to be the first man to run a marathon in space, Peake has been preparing for the big day for months. In an Associated Press interview published this week, the 44-year-old astronaut, who has been living on the International Space Station since December, said he’s now ready for race day

“It's a great challenge that I set myself, and I'm quite glad this is happening later on in the mission,” he told AP.

Peake is no stranger to long distance running; in 1999, he completed the London Marathon in 3 hours 18 minutes 50 seconds. 

Attempting the same distance in zero gravity, however, comes with a whole new set of difficulties.

One of the biggest challenges I’ll be facing is the harness system,” he told The Guardian in December. “It has a waistbelt and shoulder straps. That has to provide quite a bit of downforce to get my body on to the treadmill, so after about 40 minutes, that gets very uncomfortable.”

“I don’t think I’ll be setting any personal bests,” he added. “I’ve set myself a goal of anywhere between 3:30 to 4 hours.”

Though Peake will be the first man to run a marathon in space, he’s not the first human to do so.

That accolade belongs to NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who completed the 2007 Boston Marathon while on the ISS. She ran the race in just under four and a half hours.

However, as The Guardian points out, Peake’s marathon experience will be quite different from that of Williams: He’ll actually get to run virtually on the streets of London, and will have the opportunity to interact with his fellow competitors on Earth.

Peake will be using RunSocial, an app which allows runners to watch interactive, “mixed reality” videos of actual courses while on the treadmill.

As he runs, he'll be able to see an avatar of himself running at a corresponding speed along the London course. He’ll also see the avatars of other runners who are also using the app. 

If you want to run with Peake, you can join him for a training run using the RunSocial app (free, but currently only available for iPhones and iPads). You can also run the entire London Marathon with the spaceman on April 24. Find out how here.

As for how you'll spot Peake among the thousands of participants at the race -- his avatar is hard to miss.

He's decked out head to toe in a European Space Agency flight suit: 

According to the AP, several European Space Agency and U.K. Space Agency representatives -- who have dubbed themselves "Team Astronaut" -- will be competing in the London Marathon to, as they put it, "share in a little of Tim's pain."

Team Astronaut and Peake are running the marathon for the U.K. charity Prince's Trust.

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