Take a day (or a couple of days) ... how far can you go? Running around a track until you meet your deadline is probably the purest form of ultra-running there is. Right up there with the pedestrianism of the late 19th century to the current feeding frenzy surrounding the last one standing format.
A 400-metre athletics track, however, holds something over all other types of race-venues, ultra or otherwise. It is a tangible measure of one runner’s ability against another. From 100 metres to the 10,000 metres on the Olympic/World Athletics program, and 6 hours through to 6 days and beyond in the ultra-world, regardless of location, the track is what it is. A pan flat 400 metres that’s pretty much the same wherever you find it. Sure, the age and thus the performance of a track can come into play, as does the environment and conditions on a given day, but it’s unequivocally a level playing field.
As such, there is no ‘World best’ or ‘fastest known time.’ If you run faster or further than anyone else around a certified track, it is a World Record (WR). Case in point being John Bermingham’s age group WR setting 3,000 metres at Bendigo on March 21st (pictured below, centre).
Having said that, while there are so many accolades and plaudits bandied around the ultra-scene in particular, few genuinely live up to the hype. For once, the buzz following last weekend's Canberra 48 hour is worthy of them. 'Crushed it', 'smashed it', 'shattered it' ... whatever. Camille Herron's record setting performance is out of this world.
We’ve been fortunate enough to witness some impressive running in six years of the BUTTER 24, but nothing in the same ball park as this (yet!)
While the result in itself is staggering (435 kms, surpassing Jo Zakrzewski’s record set only last month by nearly 24 kms), it also means Herron is now third all time, male or female. There's a write-up of Herron's run, along with her profile on the Runners World site, here.
While we all set goals and aspire to achieve them, often, for most people, it’s impossible to fathom how an individual comes close to performances they record. And, while there will be plenty of us poring over the detail of Herron’s result over time, analysing splits, milestones, sleep pattern, astrological characteristics, etc., sometimes you simply must sit back, make an expletive laden and possibly sacrilegious exclamation, and simply offer a round of applause!
If you've never spent time running around a track, on a voyage of discovery to do nothing more than finding out just how far you can go, it's always worth a look-in (and it's never usually what you expect). Probably the most socially interactive running event you’ll ever participate in. We recommend giving it a shot … but then we are biased!
Alun Davies - AAA Racing & Coaching
Going around in circles since 1966!