Lithuanian ultrarunner Aleksandr Sorokin shattered his own 24-hour world record over the weekend, logging 198.599 miles (319.614 kilometers) to win the 2022 IAU 24-Hour European Championships in Verona, Italy. He averaged 7:15 per mile for 24 hours on a track to break his record of 192.251 miles from last year.
“I’m very tired, however I’m double excited. Very very thankfull [sic] for your support, I really felt it,” he wrote on instagram.
Before Sorokin put his name in the record books, the previous world best set by Greece’s Yiannis Kouros was thought to be untouchable. He ran 188.59 miles on the track in 1997 and 180.335 miles on the road in 1998.
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Sorokin, who turns 41 this month, has rewritten the ultrarunning record books in recent years. He has set world records for 100-kilometers (6:05:41, 5:53 mile pace), 100 miles (10:51:39, 6:31 mile pace) and 12 hours (110.24 miles, 6:32 mile pace) in the past year.
To prepare for the race, he trained at altitude near Iten, Kenya, logging a high of 234.9 miles in one week, including a 43.5-mile run at 6:27 pace.
Sorokin was a competitive kayaker in his youth, but gave up the sport at age 25 after he got a shoulder injury. He got a regular job, smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol and gained some weight before deciding to change his lifestyle and take up ultrarunning at age 31.
In an interview with The New York Times, Sorokin described the feeling of those last painful miles of an ultramarathon as “radical acceptance.”
“There’s only one word to describe the last hours of a race: torture,” he said to the New York Times. “Time feels like it goes slower. The laps feel like they get longer.”
Johanna Gretschel is a freelance writer and broadcaster living in Austin, Texas, who has covered elite track and field and running in all its forms. She contributes to Runner’s World, ESPN, Austin American-Statesman, FloTrack, MileSplit, Women’s Running and Podium Runner. Yes, she has run a marathon!
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