Hoka One One held its Project Carbon X 2 event in Arizona on Saturday, and it lived up to the hype, with American Jim Walmsley completing the 100K route in 6:09:26. Walmsley averaged an incredible pace of 3:41 per kilometre throughout the race, and he ultimately came up just 12 seconds off the world record of 6:09:14, which Japan’s Nao Kazami set in 2018. On the women’s side, Audrey Tanguy of France won the first road race of her career, crossing the line in 7:40:36.
— HOKA (@hoka) January 23, 2021
Falling just short
Walmsley’s run on Saturday was not his first 100K world record attempt. In 2019, he ran at Hoka’s first Project Carbon X event, and while he broke the American 50-mile record that day, he faded in the final 20K and finished close to an hour off Kazami’s 100K best. He ran a much more even race on Saturday than he did in 2019, posting almost sub-19-minute 5K splits throughout most of the race. The final 15K were a struggle, though, and he posted two 5K splits north of 19 minutes, which ended up being the difference between first- and second-place in the history books.
He may have fallen short of the world record, but Walmsley still put on a thrilling and inspiring show. He waited patiently for the first half of the race, running with several other athletes before breaking away at 50K. He spent the second half of the run on his own, and he actually accelerated when he started running solo. Despite clipping a fence on the course that left his shoulder bleeding for the final stages of the run, Walmsley continued to click off sub-six-minute miles.
Congratulations to all our athletes who gave it their all in Project Carbon X 2 today – you’ve inspired us to keep chasing our goals and break our own records. The work never stops.
— HOKA (@hoka) January 23, 2021
With 5K to go in the race, he was on pace to better Kazami’s record, but the beating from the previous 95K caught up with him, and he faded just enough to miss the mark. He finished 17 minutes ahead of second-place finisher Rajpaul Pannu, who ran 6:28:31, and a full half hour in front of third place Kris Brown, who posted a time of 6:39:14. Walmsley now sits at second all-time in the 100K rankings, and he also owns the new American record after obliterating the previous mark of 6:27:44 that Max King set in 2014.
Tanguy’s debut road race
According to Tim Tollefson, who live streamed the finish on his Instagram page, Project Carbon X 2 was not only Tanguy’s first road ultramarathon, but it was her first road race of any distance. She hasn’t run a marathon, a 10K or even a mile-long race on the road before. While it would have been understandable if her legs hadn’t been able to handle hammering the pavement for 100K, she crushed her debut on the road. Her winning time of 7:40:36 was about three minutes ahead of second place, although it was well short of the world record of 6:33:11, which belongs to Japan’s Tomoe Abe.
Tanguy spent most of the race chasing the leaders. Britain’s Carla Molinaro led for much of the race, at one point building a nine-minute lead of Tanguy, who sat in fourth place until about 45K. Tanguy moved into 3rd place by 60K, at which point she was six minutes behind Molinaro. At 65K, she was in second place, only three minutes back, and 5K later, she had overtaken Molinaro to jump into the lead. She ran solo for the final 30K, and while she faded quite a bit in the closing stages of the run, she managed to hold onto the lead.
Molinaro fell to fourth-place after she was passed by eventual second-place finisher Nicole Monette, who ran 7:43:18, and third-place Courtney Olsen, who crossed the line in 7:55:11. Pre-race favourite Camille Herron was in second place for most of the race, but she had to pull out due to injury at about 60K.
Full results from Hoka’s Project Carbon X 2 can be found here.