This is not the kind of sport normally practiced on Henry Clay High School's track.
It's joggling: a combination of juggling and jogging. And Andy Swan, one of the the sport's most enthusiastic promoters, says it saved his life.
Swan weighed 250 pounds when he started joggling 12 years ago. Now 70 pounds lighter, Swan, 57, was the toast of the joggling competition at the Henry Clay High School track Tuesday: Wearing metallic gold shoes and red socks, a Superman logo emblazoned on his shirt and a cape that displayed a sketch of himself, Swan excited the crowd of about 50.
The joggling championships were among dozens of events for jugglers held in Lexington this week as part of the 61st annual International Jugglers' Association Juggling Festival. Joggling has been included in the festival since 1980, organizer Bill Giduz said.
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Festival organizer Kim Laird said more than 700 jugglers will take up residence downtown this week for the festival, which includes showcases and workshops that are also open to the public.
About 35 jogglers participated in races Tuesday including a 5K, various sprints and four-person relays. A number of competitors said they hope to encourage others to joggle because it's both fun and a great workout.
Perry Romanowski, 39, writes a blog about joggling (www.justyouraveragejoggler.com) and says joggling is the ”sport of the future.“ When he started joggling, Romanowski didn't even know it was a sport; he simply thought it would be amusing to juggle at the end of a marathon. He has joggled in 24 marathons since, and holds the world record in joggling during a 50-mile ultra marathon.
”I tell people while I'm rare I'm not unique,“ Romanowski said.
Joggling provides a well-rounded workout for participants because it exercises the upper and lower body and because juggling flows with the natural movement arms make during a run, said running veteran and joggling newbie Lenny Ferman, 44. He's been running for more than 25 years, but only found out about joggling 21/2 years ago.
”I picked up juggling and realized I missed my calling,“ he said.
Ferman said a common misconception about joggling is that it's only for ”circus freaks.“
”When I go running, no one says "Wow, guess what I saw today,' “ he said. ”When I joggle, they do. It makes people happier.“
Swan's popularity among his joggling peers also might have to do with his unswerving devotion to increasing participation in joggling: He has participated in every joggling championship event run in the past eight years, and has won 65 gold medals in joggling, which he says is the most in history. His goal is to win 100.
”I joggle to inspire people,“ he said.
IF YOU GO
What: 61st annual International Jugglers' Association Juggling Festival
Where: Lexington Convention Center, Heritage Hall West
When: Now through Sunday
Cost: Members of the general public can purchase "spectator passes" for $5 to watch impromptu performances and demonstrations.
Lexington Convention Center Food Court
10 p.m. Wednesday
International Jugglers' Association Juggling Festival Youth Showcase and Junior Championships
Lexington Opera House
7 p.m. Wednesday
Cost: $15, $7 for children 10 and under
”Planting the Juggling Seed“ workshop for children and families
Heritage Hall West, Lexington Convention Center
11 a.m. Thursday
For a full list of events, visit www.lexingtoncenter.com or www.juggle.org