Long-Distance Running Records
In the past, long-distance running was a niche sport, with few records breaking into the mainstream. There were a few notable exceptions, such as Bob Graham’s Lake District round, but there was no real race in the area until the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, though, distance runners have a chance to claim the title of fastest in the world. The following is a list of the fastest performers in long-distance running history.
In 1969, University of South Florida cross-country teammates Fred Bentley and Rick Mass attempted to break a 100-mile record. They were 18 and 21 years old, respectively, and thought the record was under twenty hours. However, the rain and cold air eventually slowed their progress, and they stopped to get massages from their coach. Regardless, they finished the race in five hours and 25 minutes, a new long-distance record for a young athlete.
Another athlete who holds many long-distance running records is Fauja Singh. At age 100, she is the oldest person to complete a marathon. She started running marathons at age 89 and finished in 6:54 hours, setting a personal record in the process. In 2011, she ran her last marathon in Hongkong, and she has finished 9 other marathons in various cities. Athletes use international athletic events to prepare for the Olympics, and long-distance runners use national and international marathons as training grounds.
The official marathon record is set by a woman. Paula Radcliffe set the record for women in 2001 in 2:05:42. In 2008, Patrick Makau took 21 seconds off her record. In 2011, Wilson Kipsang broke her record and lowered the women’s record to 2:02:39. In 2017, Brigid Kosgei smashed both male and female marathon records. In 2018, she ran the Chicago Marathon in 2:14:04, breaking the previous record by over 80 seconds. The official record for men was set in 1998 by Brazilian runner Ronaldo da Costa.
The best position in an all-time list is not necessarily the fastest time, but rather the best position during an athlete’s career. For example, if an athlete won the Olympic 5,000 metres in 15:41, her best position during her career was 13th. Then, in 2016, an American runner named Matthew Centrowitz won the Olympic 1,500 in 3:50. While this would be impressive for any runner, it is impossible to track every possible position in their career.
In the 100-mile relay, the Lockport Track Club of New York ran the distance in 7:27:55. Eight teenagers aged 14-18 made up the team. Each team ran continuous intervals of two hundred yards and 110 yards. In addition, each team completed 1,200 sprints. The record was broken a few months later in New York. It’s difficult to keep up with the records, but it’s certainly worth the effort.
The tenacity of Kim Allan has arguably made her one of the most devoted long-distance runners of all time. The 24-year-old ran three hundred and thirty-two laps around Aukland’s park to set an unofficial record for endurance. She covered over 310 miles and nearly doubled Dean Karnazes’ time in the Boston Marathon. Despite the time and distance involved, Kim Allan’s feat has been criticized by doping allegations.