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Swiss orienteering champion breaks 50K treadmill world record

The 50K treadmill world record was broken for the third time in 2020 this afternoon by Switzerland's Matthias Kyburz

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.

Past accomplishments

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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.”