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U.S. marathoner CJ Albertson reclaims 50K world record

"In the mindset that I am in, it’s just fun," says Albertson

Photo by: Twitter/Ruth Anderson Memorial Run

Fresno, Calif.’s CJ Albertson, 29, set out to reclaim the 50K world record on Saturday at the 35th Annual Ruth Anderson Memorial Run in San Francisco, and he accomplished exactly that in 2:38:44. The Ruth Anderson Memorial Run is held on a certified, 7.24 km (4.5-mile) loop on either an asphalt path or groomed dirt shoulder around a lake. There is approximately 30.5 metres (100 feet) of elevation gain and loss per loop.

Albertson worked with officials in the weeks leading up to the race to make sure the race results could be ratified should a record be set.

A coach and pro runner for Brooks, Albertson previously held the 50K record in 2020, from a 50,000 metre race held on a Fresno track, at 2:42:30. Albertson was the lone runner in the event (although he did have pacers), which was organized by Brooks and billed as an official record attempt.

In most other types of racing, road and track results are kept separate, but that’s not the case with ultra distances due to a 2014 rule introduced by the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU).

CJ Albertson
Photo: Brooks Running

Albertson’s 2020 record had been bested several times since 2020, most recently when South Africa’s Stephen Mokoka ran 2:40:13 at the 2022 Nedbank Runified 50K in Gqeberha, South Africa, breaking compatriot Ketema Negasa’s former world record of 2:42:07, also set at the 2021 Nedbank event. Albertson currently also holds the indoor marathon world record of 2:17:59, set in 2019 at The Armory in New York City.

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Albertson, whose primary event is the marathon, is also known for his unconventional race strategy: he led for 20 miles of the 2021 Boston Marathon, and ran with the same tactic at the 2022 Boston Marathon; he finished in 10th and 13th place, respectively, setting a PB in the 2022 event in 2:10:23. Albertson says upping the distance to tackle 50K record attempts is natural.

“The 50k distance has never seemed super long or much different from a marathon,” Albertson says. When asked about the role of mental toughness in his racing by iRunFar, he explained: “I don’t think that I endure pain for a long time, because I don’t really think that’s possible. I think that I don’t feel it. I put myself in the position and the mind frame where it’s fun.”

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