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Unconventional bike sparks Olympic interest

Fourth-Place Medal

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Lauren Fleshman uses ElliptiGO

At first thought, it doesn't make much sense -- a new breed of bike that trains you for running? But it seems the odd-looking bicycle (known as the ElliptiGO) has caught the eye of some very elite runners. Olympians are turning to the hybrid bike to train.

"For me, my primary reason is to supplement endurance training without getting the pounding of running," said Lauren Fleshman, a two-time U.S. Outdoor 5,000-meter champion and an Olympic hopeful. "I get to cross-train outdoors and have all the external experiences you'd get running. I also use it for injury prevention and rehabbing injuries."

Fleshman has been ransacked by injuries in her career, including a knee injury this past spring. She used the ElliptiGO, which can cost up to $3,500, to recover to the point that she'll compete in the 5,000 finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She's not the only one. Others have found their way to it, including Olympians like ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes, distance runner Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, and distance runner Adam Goucher, as well as American 50K record-holder Josh Cox.

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Bryan Pate and Brent Teal created the ElliptiGO to emulate the experience of running after Pate, a former Marine and a triathlete, found he was unable to continue training in his early 30s. Simply put, he could not handle the pounding that came with running any reasonable distance.

He had a collection of bicycles, but he didn't want to get into cycling because the workouts took much longer than the runs he was accustomed to. "What I really wanted was the experience," said Pate, who now serves as the company's co-president. "There was a joy of running I didn't find in cycling or anything else."

Pate teamed up with Teal and put together the concept for the ElliptiGO in the summer of 2005. They worked on a prototype for five years before launching the first model of the bike in 2010. "It's an opportunity to extend your running life, your joint function, your stride," Pate said. "The ElliptiGO allows you to take those miles over a longer period in your life."

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