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Finnish ultrarunner lowers women’s 12-hour world record

Satu Lipiäinen makes history at Finland's Kokkola Ultra Run, becoming the first woman from a Nordic country to set an ultrarunning world record

Satu Lipiäinen Photo by: Kokkola Ultra Run/Facebook

On May 21, five months after the 12-hour world record was shattered in Israel, Finnish ultrarunner Satu Lipiäinen achieved a new record at the Kokkola Ultra Run in Finland. Not only did she emerge victorious in the women’s race, but she also claimed the overall title by covering an impressive distance of 153.600 kilometres within the 12-hour time frame.

Lipiäinen broke the record by the closest of margins, exceeding the previous 12-hour record of 152.633 km, run by Poland’s Dominika Stelmach in January, by one kilometre. Lipiäinen is the first woman from a Nordic country to set an ultrarunning world record.

She not only broke the women’s world 12-hour record, but she also surpassed the Finnish men’s national 12-hour record of 148.750 km, by nearly 5 kilometres. According to Finland’s athletics federation, Finlands Friidrottsförbund, this is the first time a women’s record in an athletics discipline is faster than the men’s.

To put Nelson’s new 12-hour record in perspective, it is four consecutive marathons run in 3:17.45, or averaging four minutes and 41 seconds per kilometre for 153 km. Lipiäinen now holds Finnish records in five official ultrarunning disciplines: 50 km, 100 km, 100 miles, 6 hours and 12 hours.

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Despite running a world record, Lipiäinen said our her blog that she went out way too fast. “The initial goal pace was supposed to be 4:30/km, but I got out in the range of 4:15-4:20/km,” she wrote. “My heart rate kept under control, so I didn’t see the need to slow down.”

Lipiäinen said on her blog that she felt overwhelmed when she began hearing discussions about a potential world record a few hours before reaching the finish line.

She described her experience in the final few hours as magical. “Although people were talking about it, I didn’t know how close to the world record I was. I didn’t want to have to accelerate, and none of the racers informed me about the situation,” wrote Lipiäinen.

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