Endurance running is a rather unique sport, and the records within this particular discipline are a true testament of the strength, focus and commitment of human beings. This article features an overlook on some of the most amazing achievements within the world of ultra running: it is amazing to see how far people can go with the right physical preparation and the right mental attitude towards the race.
One of the most exciting long distance running records is held by Charlie Engle, Ray Zahab and Kevin Lin, who spent over 100 days in the Sahara Desert. This is the first group of modern runners to cross this fearsome desert, enduring through a whooping 4.000 miles of heat, dust, sand, and blistering nothingness.
These runners certainly didn’t experience a smooth run through the entire course of their challenge: on their journey, they had to come to terms with illness, diarrhea, and injuries, if the stark winds, abrasive send and striking heat weren’t enough
Chinese runner Xu Zhenjun managed to run an entire Marathon for nearly four hours straight. This might not sound like the greatest long distance running achievement, but there is a caveat. Xu did the whole run…backwards!
Running this way has a whole new set of challenges, including the fact that the natural body coordination is simply the other way around, and it requires twice the effort, focus and concentration in order to run and stay steadily on your path this way. While most people, including some experience runners, would struggle to even manage a few straight steps by walking backwards, Xu managed to keep going “back forward” for an entire 4 hours marathon.
Endurance running could be a life-long commitment: this is definitely the case of Mark Covert, who has been running one mile a day (at the very least)…ever since July 23rd, 1960.
This mens that for all these years, Covert managed to collect over 140.000 miles under his belt. In his younger days, he could easily run 150 miles a week or more, often regarded as one of America’s foremost long distance runners.
According to Covert, it seems nearly impossible to stop him from his daily runs: he reportedly spent time running even through injury, illness, the birth of his children and the death of his parents. If this isn’t the portrait of a committed individual, I don’t know what is!
The above records were remarkable, fun and inspiring, but there is perhaps no runner as legendary as Haile Gebrselassie, who earned world records in 13 different events and races. He is also regarded as the 3rd fastest human in history and even in his mid 30s, he managed to score the fastest time ever performed by anybody over the age of 35. Remarkable and excellent on all levels.
Another long distance running legend? Paavo Nurmi, a Finnish athlete who managed to run a stellar 453 races throughout the span of his prolific career, scoring 15 world records and earning 9 olympic gold medals. Paavo was active from 1920 to 1934, with 14 years in the game.