Coming into today, the 50K treadmill world record had already been broken twice this year, first by American trail running champion Mario Mendoza, who ran 2:59:03 in January, and then by German ultrarunner Florian Neuschwander when he ran 2:57:25 a month later. This morning (afternoon in Europe), Swiss orienteering world champion Matthias Kyburz took to the treadmill, lowering the record once again with an official time of 2:56:35.
Kyburz is a four-time world champion in orienteering, having won two individual gold medals and two relay championships. He is also a five-time Orienteering World Cup overall champion (with 21 World Cup race wins) and a five-time European champion.
He has also had success in running-specific events. The World Athletics website notes that Kyburz has PBs of 14:45 for the 5,000m, 29:55 over 10K and 1:08:25 in the half-marathon. He ran his 10K PB at the 2015 Swiss 10K championships, where he finished second.
A new record
Running a treadmill record wasn’t on Kyburz’s bucket list coming into this season, but following the coronavirus outbreak and his season being put on hold, he decided to give it a shot.
“I prepared the whole winter [to be in] top shape,” he said in a video announcing the record attempt. “Now I’m basically sitting on the top shape but I can’t use it.” This unique challenge was a way to put his hard-earned fitness to use. Kyburz admitted this was a project like none other he’d ever taken on, and he said isn’t used to running ultra distances.
His lack of long-distance experience didn’t matter, however, and he averaged 3:30 per kilometre over the 50K run. He passed through 20K in 1:10:48, completed a marathon in 2:29:10 and ran another 8K to finish the run in a new 50K world record time of 2:56:35.
The run doubled as a fundraiser for COVID-19 relief in Switzerland with the proceeds going to help individuals and families in Switzerland “who are bearing the brunt of the virus’ health-related, social and economic impacts.”