An ultrarunner challenged a fully charged Tesla Model 3. Did he outlast the EV?

The result was closer than you think.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Robbie Balenger running next to a Tesla Model

Could a man outrun a machine? That is the question ultrarunner Robbie Balenger asked and sought to answer racing against a fully charged Tesla Model 3, one of the best selling cars in the U.S., according to a report by Runner's World published Wednesday.

Balenger wanted to see if he could run longer than a Tesla could drive on a full battery: a distance consisting of little over 242 miles. The race took place on a remote road located just outside of Austin, Texas, and lasted three days, beginning on April 11.

Man beats machine

Finally, on April 14, Balenger won the wager covering the same distance as the electric vehicle plus 100 feet in 76 hours, 54 minutes, and 46 seconds. The car was reported to be driven at a median speed of 65 miles per hour for as long as a full charge would last.

Meanwhile, Balenger averaged 19 minutes and 4 seconds per mile. “Finishing this effort came with a huge sense of accomplishment and relief,” Balenger told Runner’s World. “In many ways, this was the hardest effort I have ever taken on. I’m very proud of myself and the team around me that helped to assure its success.”

Balenger was forced to take short breaks from his lofty goal to sleep, eat, brush his teeth, change his clothes, and do other essential activities. He spent 8.5 hours not running in three days.

Still, the heat and humidity of Texas got to him and even gave him stomach cramps that interfered with him eating and getting enough calories to sustain his grueling schedule. How did he push through?

Pushing through the impossible

“Every time I tell myself that I want to quit, the agreement with myself is that I have to first try to go just a little bit further, then reevaluate,” he said. “I continue egging myself on until things improve, which they always do.”

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The strange and much-covered race was sponsored by NYC-based men's activewear label Ten Thousand. The event was part of the company's ongoing Feats of Strength series, which follows athletes as they attempt to break a new record every month.

Balenger said in a press release that he hopes his feat will now inspire others to "leave their comfort zones and embrace innovation, be it by challenging their perceptions of their own physical limits or making lifestyle changes that can have a positive effect on the planet."