Des Linden broke the 50K world record on Tuesday after running an amazing time of 2:59:54 in Oregon. Running in the first ultra-distance event of her career, Linden shattered the previous record of 3:07:20 that Great Britain’s Aly Dixon set in 2019 at the 50K world championships in Romania. After getting ahead of Dixon’s record pace right from the start, she never looked back, and Linden’s final time worked out to an average pace of 3:36 per kilometre.
That’s 31.1 miles at 5:47 per mile pace.
Previous world best was 3:07:20 set by Britain’s @alydixon262 in 2019.
Previous U.S. record was 3:13:51 set by Janis Klecker in 1983.
— Chris Chavez (@ChrisChavez) April 13, 2021
Running a world record in any fashion is incredible, but doing it in your debut in the event is even more impressive. Linden has spent more than a decade racing the marathon, but she had never ventured farther than 42.2K before Tuesday (not in a race, at least). Despite her inexperience at the distance, she looked like a seasoned vet of ultrarunning, and she confidently charged to the world record, breezing through the additional 8K after she passed the marathon checkpoint.
Linden’s marathon career has been one of the best in American history, and it includes two trips to the Olympics (she registered a DNF in 2012, but ran to a seventh-place finish in 2016), multiple top-10 runs at World Marathon Majors and the win at the 2018 Boston Marathon. Many people would be satisfied with that resume, but Linden wanted more, and she decided to give ultrarunning a try after the letdown that was 2020.
She kicked 2020 off with a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, which sounds good (and it is), but it wasn’t enough to secure a spot on the American team for the Tokyo Games. She then shifted her focus to the Boston and New York City marathons, but they were both cancelled due to COVID-19.
— Boston Marathon Pro (@BostonMar_Pro) April 13, 2021
Once again forced to refocus and find new plans, Linden ran 800K in the month of October for a challenge she dubbed Run Destober. This challenge involved running the number of miles that corresponded with the date, meaning she ran one mile on October 1 and an extra mile each day until the 31st, when she ran 31 miles. The final few days of this challenge saw Linden run farther than a marathon, and after getting a taste of ultra-distances, she decided to take a stab at the 50K.
Thanks to those unexpected changes in 2020, Linden is now a world record holder, and she is only just getting started in ultrarunning. She has said that races like the Comrades Marathon and UTMB are on her bucket list, and after Tuesday’s run, it not only looks like she could perform well at these events, but that she has the potential to win them. Whatever races she chooses to run, one thing is certain: Linden is going to be around in the world of running for many years to come.