Monday, July 31, 2017

INTERVIEW with Michal Kapral (Joggler featured in 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter set)

A few days ago, I posted a pack break where I pulled a relic card of joggler Michal Kapral.  At the time, I said a few snarky words about it and moved on with the cards without giving it a second thought.  Flash forward a day or so and who comments on that blog post?  None other than Michal himself.  After exchanging a few emails back and forth, I quickly learned that Michal has a good sense of humor about his hobby (running and juggling at the same time) and that he appreciates a little bit of ribbing from random people on the internet like me.  In fact, Michal graciously agreed to do an interview with me for the blog - and since he has a card in this year's Allen & Ginter set, I figured that many of you would be interested in learning what goes into becoming a subject in the set (he has a base card plus an autograph and a relic card).

Below is the interview, edited only slightly by me for clarity.  I would like to once again thank Michal for giving the rest of us a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes of one of my favorite brands of all-time.  My questions are in bold and I copied and pasted Michal's answers below (again, with only a few minor edits such as including active links).


1.       To most baseball card collectors, you are simply the “joggler” as stated on the back of your 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter baseball card.  What made you take up such a unique pairing of activities? 

When I was kid, I remember reading about "joggling" in the Guinness Book of World Records. I had just learned how to juggle and was amazed how well these two things combined so perfectly. I went out to a park and tried it out, and discovered that I could time each toss of the beanbag with the natural arm swing during running. I forgot about this for years, and eventually became a competitive marathon runner in the early 2000s. I had dreams of making the Canadian Olympic team. I won the Toronto Marathon and some other races, but never got fast enough to a professional runner. After my first daughter. Annika, was born in 2003, I did all of my marathon training pushing her in a Baby Jogger, so I decided to set a Guinness World Record with her for fastest marathon pushing a baby in a stroller. We set the record at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2004 in 2 hours 49 minutes. The people with the charity I was raising money for asked me what I would do the next year, and I just blurted out that I would run the marathon while juggling. That's what got me started on this whole joggling thing. I planned to just do it once as a charity stunt, and in 2005, I set the new record for fastest joggling marathon in 3 hours and 7 minutes, breaking the old record by 13 minutes. Why did I keep going? Well, two months later, a guy named Zach Warren from Boston broke my record by 30 seconds. I couldn't be the second-best marathon joggler in the world, so Zach and I battled back and forth several times for the record before I eventually established the current mark of 2 hours 50 minutes and 12 seconds .Zach and I are actually good friends now.

2.       When joggling (is that even a word?), which is more challenging for you:  the running of the race or the juggling?  Are you currently working towards any more world records?

Yes, joggling is most definitely a word! Ruggling doesn't sound nearly as good. The running is definitely the hardest part, but after 20 miles or so into a marathon when you're completely zonked, the last thing you want to be doing is tossing a catching beanbags. The combination of the exhaustion from running and the hand-eye coordination of the juggling makes for an excruciatingly painful final few miles in a marathon. If you're doing it properly, joggling should give you a nice zen-like feeling, where the juggling pattern puts you into a bit of a trance. It's a funny sport, but it's also really addictive. I am currently taking things to the next level and training for a five-ball joggling marathon, which is kind of insane. Juggling five is about 10 times harder than three. Add in the running and it's going to really push me to the edge of possibility. I like a challenge.

3.       Returning to this year’s edition of Allen & Ginter, talk us through how you learned that you were being considered for inclusion in the set.  Did Topps reach out to you?  Did you need to give them permission to include you?  Did you need to provide the photograph and card back blurb?  At what point in time did you learn you’d actually have a card in the set? 

Topps reached out to me to ask me about being featured in the 2017 Allen & Ginter set. I collected Topps baseball cards when I was younger and still have them, so I was pretty much over the moon when I got the offer, and said yes right away. They sourced the photograph, which was from the Boston Marathon and wrote their own blurb. I thought it was hilarious that they would be including a joggler among their list of World's Champions, but hey, I had worked as hard as any other athlete in setting that world record! I think I knew I'd have a card in early 2017, but didn't know what they would look like until much later.

4.       One of the things that interests a lot of collectors is the unique relics in Allen & Ginter.  I pulled a relic of yours from a pack that was once part of your race bib.  How much “material” did you have to provide Topps for your relics?  Did they request anything in particular?

Ah yes, the relics! I made a big sacrifice for my used memorabilia to donate for the cause. I wanted to give something that had some meaning, so I sent away my race singlet and bib number from the 2016 Chicago Marathon. This was the first joggling marathon I completed without dropping a ball once, finishing in 2 hours 55 minutes. The race got an overwhelming amount of media coverage, from Runner's World to NPR to ESPN SportsCenter Top 10  was pretty wild.

The white and red relic in your card is the race bib number; the dark blue and white is from the running singlet. So you have a piece a joggling history there from the fastest no-drop joggling marathon.

5.       In addition to the base card and the relic card, you also have a framed autograph card in the set.  Do you know how many different autographs you had to sign for the set?  How far in advance of the set’s release did you have to sign all the cards?

I signed about 300 autographs on three different styles of cards, with red, blue silver or black ink (if I remember correctly), all witnessed by a Topps representative. This was about two months before the release. When he showed up with the box of cards to sign, that was the first time I saw what they looked like. I was really impressed with the design.

6.       You might not be able (or want to) answer this, but does Topps pay you for included you in the set?  Do they pay for the various “relics” that you provide them?  We know they pay baseball players to sign cards, but what about people outside the jurisdiction of MLB and the MLB Players’ Association?

Yes, I got paid a flat rate for everything. It didn't make me rich but was a nice unexpected bonus.

7.       You mentioned that you once collected Topps baseball cards.  What set(s) did you collect?  Did you have a particular card that was a favorite?  And now, are you going to try and collect the different versions of your own card (or does Topps give you a copy to keep)?  

I collected the standard Topps baseball cards in the 1980s. I'm from Toronto so I tried to collect all the Blue Jays, and I was obsessed with Rollie Fingers and Phil Niekro. My mom recently found the old box of cards in my parents' attic and gave them back to me, just a couple of months before I heard from Topps that I would be getting my own card! Topps said they'll be giving me a bunch of my own cards, but it would be cool to collect some of my relic cards.

8.       How strange is it to see cards of you pop up on random blogs or even eBay auctions?  For those that are interested, are you interested in signing autographs of your base card through the mail?  And, if so, how would you like people to reach out to you?

This whole joggling this has been one weird and awesome experience, but definitely seeing a Topps card of myself listed on eBay and on various blogs is one of the most surreal things I've seen. I wanted to see what the different versions looked like, so I googled "joggler" and found your blog. Yes, I'm always happy to sign autographs of the base card through the mail. People can get in touch at or on Twitter at @mkapral and Instagram at @marathonjoggler. My blog is updated sporadically.

9.       Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?  Do you have any suggestions for future inclusions in the Allen & Ginter set?

I think it's cool that the Allen & Ginter set includes some offbeat personalities. I'm friends with Corey Bellemore, who also has a card as the world-record holder for the beer mile (four beers, one before each of the four laps around a 400m track). He's another case of someone doing something funny, but he's an incredible athlete. I'd like to see them continue to include a selection of sporting misfits and weirdos in the Allen & Ginter collection. And I'm honored to be one of the oddballs in 2017.


Once again, a huge thank you to Michal for taking some time to discuss his hobby and the Allen & Ginter set.  I think it's awesome that he used to collect cards and now he gets his very own card.  As a fan of Allen & Ginter, maybe I should find some sort of strange hobby duo to master so that I, too, can get my own Allen & Ginter card.

I know that I hope to send one of my base cards of Michal to him to get him to sign it for me.  I haven't really discussed one of my future goals much on the blog yet, but basically I have a display case that holds 20 cards - and I'd like to get 20 different Allen & Ginter cards signed to display in it (ideally cards that have some particular meaning or connection to me).  I think Michal's card would fit perfectly in that plan...right next to my signed Ivan Rodriguez Ginter card!


Tony Burbs said...

This was a very enlightening interview and Michal seems like an upstanding dude. I'm going to have to track down one of these cards for my runner PC... as well as the beer miler!

The Lost Collector said...

Really cool interview. Thanks for sharing.

I think I saw him in a hotel commercial recently as well.

ketchupman36 said...

That was interesting to hear he sent along he race bib and singlet as the relic pieces

Michal The Joggler Kapral said...

Thanks for indulging me. That was a fun interview.

SumoMenkoMan said...

Awesome interview. Thanks for sharing it!

Chris said...

I've made my share of sarcastic comments (usually on my personal blog) and I do worry that one day someone will call me out on one (it's happened before.) So it was awesome of Michal to be such a good sport about it and take the time to share some thoughts about his sport and his card and agree to sign them. I've never collected A&G before but I might have to put a "joggler" card on my want list. Props to Michal for being a great athlete as well, no matter how "odd" the discipline might be, it's doubtful any of us could do it!

night owl said...

Interesting, although I admit I was a lot more into the card portion of the interview than the joggling part. I was curious, however, about the objects he "joggles" with -- he mentioned both bean bags and balls. Is one used more often, any other objects?

Michal The Joggler Kapral said...

Hey night owl. I started out with larger plastic juggling balls called Exerballs. These are the red ones in the photo on the card. I switched to lighter bean bags called Sportballs, from

Billy Kingsley said...

Too cool! And it's not every day that a sport gets it's first card, and the athlete pictured is himself a collector.

Community Gum said...

Very cool interview. Thanks to Michal for taking the time to pull the veil back on the process a bit for us.

Matt Stupienski said...

Very cool. This kind of thing makes my day!

JediJeff said...

Note to self: instead of posting pictures of Kate Upton, start saying snarky comments about her.

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