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Treadmill out of control

This morning I went for a 15 kilometer run in the gym. I like to do that early on Sunday morning: after the run a big breakfast tastes great, and you still have a whole day ahead of you. The first machine I stepped on turned out to be set to French and was measuring the distance in miles instead of kilometers, so I took the one next to it.

About 30 minutes later someone else wanted to use the ‘French’ treadmill. He stepped on it, pressed ‘quick start’ and at that moment the machine immediately sped up to run at 10 mph (16 kmh). The guy fell down, but managed to hold on to the bar on the machine. He tried to stand up, but because the machine ran so fast he was not able to do it. He finally let go and was launched off the machine, hitting his head on the machine while falling.

At first I thought it was funny, but when I looked at the guy I realized he was hurt pretty bad. His whole face was covered in blood, and his arms and legs were also not looking too nice. None of the gym’s staff had noticed it, and other people had to alarm them. Not sure what happened to the guy, but I guess he had to go to hospital. The whole thing happened within 6 seconds, very scary.

Afterwards the gym put an ‘out of order’ sign on the machine. One of the staff looked into the treadmill’s computer, but had no clue what she was doing because it was set to French (which she clearly did not speak). Maybe I should have helped her, but I did not want to interrupt my run just because a staff member is incapable to change the language to English.

But I still think it’s scary that a top running machine (a Life Fitness treadmill) can suddenly get out of control. Especially when you just start your run this is extremely dangerous. I am glad I had not used the machine myself, and will watch out the next time I run on one of these machines.

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  1. Goeie genade Marc die man had wel kunnen verongelukken op die band. Of in plaats van hem had het jou kunnen gebeuren. Het is inderdaad nodig alles zelf te controleren en niet al te veel op de staff van de gym te vertrouwen.
    Antoinette Friedrichs.

  2. This treadmill was defect indeed, and /or this guy was very careless.
    Was there no safety-string?(kind of a cord with a magnet)
    Can you put your feet aside of the rubber band before you push buttons?
    One lesson: never use the quickstart((;)and french treadmills.)
    Marc, did you register for the (half) marathonSH?

  3. Hi Nico, there is a string with a magnet, but most people never use it. You can also stand on the side before you push the buttons, but also for this most people just push while standing on the rubber.

    I did not register for the Shanghai Marathon, because I will be in Holland that weekend. It’s a pity, I would have loved to run, but business comes first… How about you?

  4. I had send the registrationform/ healthdecl.+ certificate of my last marathon in pdf.files to several email adresses for SHmarathon.A Dutch “running contact”had send me the copy by email. I go for half the marathon.( did already 2x the whole 42 this year) Noticed that the “deadline”is on the 5th Nov. Regarding my arrival on the 4th Nov. in SH it will be close.

  5. … and he didn’t stop his run and went to help out. It may only take 30 seconds for him to reset to English, where it could kill five people with that machine!

  6. The language was not the cause of the problem, but there was a problem with the software of the treadmill. Changing the language to English would not have made any difference.