Des Linden has raced 20 marathons, but she’s never gone longer than the 26.2-mile distance in a competition.
That changed today, when she ran a 50K (31.06 miles) on a deserted bike path outside of Eugene, Oregon.
Linden, 37, finished in 2:59:54, a world record for the distance, more than seven minutes ahead of the existing record of 3:07:20, set by British ultrarunner Aly Dixon on September 1, 2019. She averaged 5:47 per mile pace.
“As we got in there, I was like, ‘I feel pretty good, let’s err on the other side of 5:45 [per mile pace].’ We probably banked a little bit too much time,” Linden told Runner’s World. “It got hard the last five [miles], but I knew we had that time.”
She’s accustomed to performing in front of large crowds—at marathons in Boston, New York, and at the Olympic Games. But the pandemic has upended the typical calendar of large-scale races, leaving elite runners to develop their own opportunities for competition, against the clock or a limited number of other athletes.