On Wednesday morning, after two straight days of running around a 400m track at the One Track Mind Ultra in Duncan, B.C., Viktoria Brown of Whitby, Ont., set the new Canadian 48-hour record with a total distance of 324.864K. The race was just the third of Brown’s ultrarunning career, which she kicked off in September with the national 24-hour record. Now, two months later, she has added another Canadian best to her resume, and she’s only just getting started.
The 45-year-old Brown is a triathlete first and foremost, and in August, she travelled to Hungary (where she’s from) to compete in the country’s national triathlon championships. She won the iron-distance race, and when she returned home, she wanted another challenge. A few years ago, she happened to be on-site for That Dam Hill 24-hour ultramarathon in London, Ont., and she told herself that she would eventually try a 24-hour race. With so many event cancellations this year, she realized she had the perfect opportunity to give this bucket list goal a shot.
“Getting into ultras wasn’t in my plan for another three years or so,” she says. Luckily, she didn’t wait that long, and now she has two national records to her name. She won That Dam Hill with a total distance of 213.8K, which beat the previous 24-hour national women’s record on Canadian soil by 3K. After that remarkable performance, Brown was invited to join the Canadian team at Big’s Backyard Ultra. There, she ran 34 laps for a grand total of 228K. Finally, on Wednesday, in her third ultramarathon in three months, she beat the previous Canadian 48-hour record of 318.650K by more than 6K.
One Track Mind
In her first ultra, Brown started the race without any idea that she might challenge a national record. At the One Track Mind Ultra, though, she had the 24- and 48-hour track records set in her sights. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t ideal, and a near-constant downpour left Brown struggling in the opening 24 hours.
“I had to change so many times,” she says. “Change my shoes, re-tape my feet [to avoid blisters], make full wardrobe changes. That all takes time.” At one point, the tent protecting her clothes collapsed, soaking all of her dry gear. “My friend had to take everything to our Airbnb and put it all in the dryer. It took two cycles and two hours to get everything dry, and I was just freezing as I ran and waited for her to return.”
After these mishaps and the constant need to change into dry clothes, Brown accepted that the 24-hour record of 238K was out of reach, so she refocused and aimed solely on the 48-hour mark. The only issue, she says, was that she had much less room for error with the 48-hour record than she had planned. “Since I was aiming to run 230K or so in the first 24 hours, I had expected to beat [the 48-hour record] by a much bigger margin,” Brown says. When she abandoned that original plan, she says the goal went from smashing the record to simply beating it “by any margin.”
That second day was far from easy, Brown says, but she eventually surpassed the previous best of 318K, ultimately running 6K farther. She says she hopes to “put a proper effort into it” soon enough to see how far she’s really capable of pushing over two days of running, but for now, she’s happy with any record. The way she’s running, though, it shouldn’t be a surprise if Brown continues to break records in the years to come.