How marathon runner Des Linden ventured into the ‘unknown’ and broke the 50km file

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

“The most effective factor that is ever occurred with speaking about bourbon publicly is there is a ton of bourbon followers on the market they usually all wish to share it with you,” Linden, who’s a little bit of a 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 median tempo of 5 minutes, 47 seconds per mile over 31 miles to dip beneath the three-hour mark and take the file 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 file to fill a gap in her racing calendar that may often 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 trying the 50km in April, the build-up to which concerned operating between 110 and 115 miles every week with grueling pace classes included into her lengthy runs of 20, 22, 24 and 26 miles.

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

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

“What was very particularly difficult on this course is that we got here by means of that 26.2-mile mark and then you definitely 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 aspect of the street galloping alongside on the similar tempo as us and it is stunning, however you may 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 properly ready … the primary problem was that final 5, six miles the place it was like, ‘I’ve by no means been right here earlier than and I acquired to maintain my head on to verify I get the file and the sub three.'”

‘Capturing large’ in Boston

With the 50km distance not acknowledged by World Athletics, Linden’s time does not rely as an official world file — as an alternative described as a “world greatest” 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. “Once you simplify it to most people, nobody on the earth has executed this earlier than, and that is nonetheless fairly particular.

“If we will make the occasion extra common 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 crew 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 crew has to withdraw, Linden can also be setting her sights on the Boston Marathon in October.
In 2018, she battled by means of wind, rain and biting chilly to turn into the first American woman 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 purpose once I enroll and it will be fascinating to see how the fields come collectively and what it looks like within the fall,” she says, with the race moved from its standard April date amid the pandemic.

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

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

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

“It was all so overseas and recent and new, and I feel it made me excited in regards to 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 feel I may see myself going slightly bit longer and flirting with that stuff for some time.”

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