How marathon runner Des Linden ventured into the ‘unknown’ to interrupt the 50km report

2021-05-04 15:40:26

These had been two of her tipples of selection as she toasted turning into the primary girl to run 50 kilometers in underneath three hours on April 13, her time of two:59:54 on a course close to Eugene, Oregon, besting the earlier report by nearly seven-and-a-half minutes.

“The perfect factor that is ever occurred with speaking about bourbon publicly is there is a ton of bourbon followers on the market and so they all need to share it with you,” Linden, a self-professed connoisseur of the spirit, tells CNN Sport.

“I did get gifted a ton of bourbon and whiskey and we had this very nice one which was aged like 66 months or one thing — it was stunning.”

The celebrations had been well-earned. A seasoned marathon runner who had by no means beforehand raced past 26.2 miles, Linden clocked a mean tempo of 5 minutes, 47 seconds per mile over 31 miles to dip underneath the three-hour mark and take the report from Britain’s Alyson Dixon.

Linden crosses the finish line at last month's event.

Racing past the marathon

The 37-year-old Linden determined to tackle the 50km report to fill a gap in her racing calendar that will normally have been occupied by a spring marathon.

Final October, she accomplished a singular feat — dubbed “Destober” — that concerned operating a distance corresponding to every day of the month: one mile on the primary day, two on the second, earlier than finally ending with a 31-mile run on October 31.

That proved a catalyst for making an attempt the 50km in April, the build-up to which concerned operating between 110 and 115 miles every week with grueling pace classes integrated into her lengthy runs of 20, 22, 24 and 26 miles.

The coaching was designed to organize Linden for racing past the space of a marathon.

“I used to be going via 25, 26 miles and also you begin feeling that marathon fatigue the place your toes are sort of sticking to the bottom, your power ranges are low and you continue to have a protracted strategy to go,” she says, reflecting on final month’s occasion.

“What was very particularly difficult on this course is that we got here via that 26.2-mile mark and then you definately head away from the beginning/end line.

“You are getting additional away from house to a level, although you are really getting nearer; that was an enormous psychological problem.”

Linden makes a turn on her way to the 50km record.

With no followers lining the route and solely a pacemaker for firm, it proved to be a brand new racing expertise for Linden. Sticking to the goal tempo on the out-and-back course, which wound alongside a abandoned bike path close to Dorena Lake, required a targeted mindset.

“It was these lengthy stretches of completely stunning surroundings,” says Linden.

“There are horses on the facet of the street galloping alongside on the identical tempo as us and it is stunning, however you can simply simply go to sleep … as a result of there was no actual power round it.

“Bodily, I simply felt tremendous locked in and really effectively ready … the principle problem was that final 5, six miles the place it was like, ‘I’ve by no means been right here earlier than and I received to maintain my head on to ensure I get the report and the sub three.'”

‘Taking pictures massive’ in Boston

With the 50km distance not acknowledged by World Athletics, Linden’s time would not depend as an official world report — as a substitute described as a “world finest” by the game’s governing physique.

However so far as she’s involved, all of it means the identical.

“It is simply phrases, proper?” says Linden. “Whenever you simplify it to most of the people, nobody on this planet has executed this earlier than, and that is nonetheless fairly particular.

“If we are able to make the occasion extra widespread and extra individuals begin to do it, perhaps World Athletics will rethink their stance on it.”

Having competed on the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, Linden narrowly missed out on a spot within the US marathon group for Tokyo, ending fourth ultimately 12 months’s trials in Atlanta the place the highest three certified.

An alternate for this 12 months’s Olympics if a member of the group has to withdraw, Linden can be setting her sights on the Boston Marathon in October.
In 2018, she battled via wind, rain and biting chilly to grow to be the first American girl to win Boston since 1985 — a efficiency she’s hoping to repeat later this 12 months.
Linden celebrates after crossing the finish line at the 2018 Boston Marathon.

“Win Boston is at all times the objective once I enroll and it will be attention-grabbing to see how the fields come collectively and what it looks like within the fall,” she says, with the race moved from its regular April date amid the pandemic.

“I am excited to have the ability to prepare at house in Charlevoix, Michigan, as a result of I believe that space is simply good for making ready for a Boston-type course. I am positively taking pictures for an enormous one in October.”

And in relation to ultra-running — outlined as any race additional than a marathon — the 50km report may simply have been the beginning for Linden.

“It’s intriguing moving into that unknown and going like, ‘I’ve by no means been right here earlier than,'” she says.

“It was all so international and recent and new, and I believe it made me excited concerning the additional and the longer distances … it is all about difficult myself and testing these unknowns.

“There’s clearly a ton of distance left to go there. I believe I might see myself going just a little bit longer and flirting with that stuff for some time.”

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