HOUGHTON - Passersby might catch Bob and Trish Evans jogging around Houghton, juggling simultaneously as they go.
The husband and wife duo, who are training to compete in the World Joggling Championships in Rochester Minn., July 20, are hoping to break the Guinness World Records for running the fastest 5K while juggling three objects.
"It's called joggling," Bob said of the sport, which combines jogging and juggling. "This will be our first big festival that we've made it to."
Daily Mining Gazette/Kelly Fosness
Bob and Trish Evans, Michigan Technological University graduates, demonstrate joggling, a sport which combines juggling and jogging, along the Houghton waterfront Wednesday.
The Evans, who reside and teach high school in Sahuarita, Ariz., spend their summers in Houghton. Together they work for the Summer Youth Program at Michigan Technological University, of which they are both graduates.
Bob said they learned the basics of juggling after their collegiate athletic careers and have since continued to develop their own side business as an acrobatic juggling and unicycle duo, performing across the United States.
Bob, a former Tech basketball player, and Trish, who competed in cross country running and skiing, saw the free time after college sports as an opportunity to try new activities.
"We went through a phase where we had four to five extra hours where we weren't training so we tried different classes - dancing, yoga, water polo, hula hooping, rock climbing," he said. "We were enjoying that freedom of not playing the same sports over and over again and juggling was just one of those things that stuck."
In July of last year, the Evans picked up joggling, and for Trish, it was challenging. But once she developed a balance, where her arms were moving in sync with her legs, the rhythm came natural.
"It's like jogging where you're driving your arms at the same time, but instead of just bringing it forward, you're making a throw, and instead of driving it back, you're making a catch," she said. "It's the same rhythm. You just don't have as much arm power as a regular run."
The Evans joggled their first race, the Fiesta Sahuarita 5K near Tucson, Ariz., in September, and since it wasn't technically a joggling competition, they drew quite a few looks.
"When you're the only people juggling in a race, it's attention grabbing," he said. "People watching the race really enjoy it."
Needless to say, they finished well above average. Bob placed first and Trish finished fourth (first female) overall.
"It really propelled us to go after it," she said.
Since September, Bob and Trish have participated in 11 races in southern Arizona.
"We've been training hard for this and I'm actually running faster times in the 5K than I did in college, and I'm juggling," Trish said.
Bob said Trish unofficially set the Guinness World Record for the fastest female 5K while juggling three objects in the Tucson Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure with her time of 20:30.
"The current official world record for a women's 5K is 23:45 set by Heather Hacket Brineger in 1997," he said, adding the Guinness World Record for the fastest male 5K while juggling three objects is 16:55.
Bob is hoping to break that record in Minnesota in July.
"We've designed a workout where Wednesday's we do 5K worth of race pace intervals, because this is the day the race will be on," Trish said. "I do my longer runs on the Tech trails and we're using local tracks."
Individually they average 30 miles of joggling per week.
Bob said the World Joggling Championships are held annually in conjunction with the International Jugglers' Association juggling festival. Every year the event is held in a new location.
"We'll be competing in a street performing festival, a joggling championship, which is like a regular track meet except everybody's juggling, but there'll be sprints and relays," he said. "Minnesota has a pretty good juggling scene so there'll be good competition there."
Bob and Trish are actively involved with Team Catch it Early, which is a cancer awareness advocacy group that encourages jugglers to joggle during races in an effort to raise awareness and money for nonprofit organizations working toward a cure for cancer.
This fall, the Evans are setting aside their teaching positions for a year-long road trip of the U.S.
For the past few years, they've been saving up for their adventure, which includes reaching the highest peak in every state. So far, they've checked Colorado and Arizona off their list.
"It's always been a dream to travel and live as free as possible," Bob said. "We've been renting fully furnished homes for the past three or four years so we really don't have any possessions; we don't have any kids. ... Now is the time to make it happen."
While overnight accommodations are still up in the air to some extent, Bob said they are packing camping gear and are looking into the online network couchsurfing.com.
"You can offer your home to host travelers or look for people willing to host," he said. "We haven't tried it yet but we've heard that's a pretty good deal."
While they're not looking at the road trip as a juggling tour per se, Bob said they are planning a few street juggling shows along the way.
"It's mostly to travel," he said. "But we'll definitely use the juggling to pick up shows."
In the meantime, the Evans will be performing locally at a number of festivals, including Bridgefest, Seafood Fest; Fourth of July parades and the Houghton County Fair in August.
To follow Bob and Trish on their travel this fall, or for more information, visit bobandtrish.com or find them on Facebook at Bob and Trish Juggling.