A South Carolina man competing in the 2020 Charleston Marathon has beaten the world record for the fastest time to finish a marathon in an exoskeleton suit.
Adam Gorlitsky, who is paralyzed from the waist down, completed Saturday’s 26.2-mile race with a time of 33 hours, 50 minutes and 23 seconds, Cory Michel, one of the organizers of the Charleston Marathon, told CNN.
The current record holder is British man Simon Kindleysides, who finished the 2018 London Marathon in 36 hours and 46 minutes, according to Guinness World Records.
Guinness has not certified Gorlitsky’s race results, which Gorlitsky said he plans to submit to the organization Monday.
Gorlitsky started walking the race Thursday night and finished Saturday morning, without taking any breaks for sleep.
It was Gorlitsky’s second marathon attempt. His first was at the Los Angeles Marathon in March 2019, when he made it to 17.2 miles before stopping.
“I’ve been attempting to break Simon’s record for about a year now,” Gorlitsky told CNN. “And now that I have, the second I crossed that finish line, I have a whole new level of respect for him and anyone who walks a marathon wearing an exoskeleton suit. It wasn’t easy at all.”
By the time he finished, Gorlitsky was sleep-deprived, shivering and exhausted. What helped push him to the finish line, he said, was having a solid support group.
“With this marathon being in my hometown, so many groups of people came out and walked a mile with us throughout the race,” he said. “With things like this, you have so much adrenaline going through your body that even when I was tired, everyone’s energy pulled me through.”
In December 2005, Gorlitsky was in a car accident that left him paralyzed from a severe spinal cord injury. His doctors thought he would never be able to walk again. But after 10 years, Gorlitsky was able to stand up and walk using a ReWalk Robotic Exoskeleton.
Gorlitsky founded the non-profit I GOT LEGS in 2016 after becoming the first paralyzed man to walk the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston using a robotic exoskeleton. It took him nearly seven hours to complete the 6.2 mile race.
His organization is “dedicated to improving the lives of the disabled community.”
“My spinal cord injury doesn’t define who I am,” Gorlitsky said. “The message that I want to come out of this is that your injuries, your physical disabilities, your adversities will never define who you are.”
The athlete is currently on a “One Million Steps Tour,” where he plans to walk one million steps in road races across the United States using his robotic exoskeleton.
Along with completing the marathon, Gorlitsky has walked in nearly 50 road races all around the country. But his next goal, he joked, is to face the man whose record he beat.
“I want to challenge Simon to a one-on-one exoskeleton race one day,” Gorlitsky said. “I’d love to go head to head with him on his home turf at the London Marathon.”