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5 takeaways from Des Linden’s 50K record run

Linden's 2:59:54 50K result in Oregon has given us a lot to think about

Des Linden had the race of a lifetime on Tuesday, running 50K in a mind-boggling 2:59:54 to smash the world record. Her run captured the attention of runners worldwide, and although it was not televised or streamed, people everywhere were glued to Twitter waiting for updates on her progress. Linden’s run was incredible, and it will go down as one of the greatest performances (if not the outright best) of her career. There will be much more to be said about her new record in the coming days, weeks and even years, but for now, here are five key takeaways from her run. 

The future is fast 

Even if Linden is the only elite marathoner who decides to make the jump to ultras in the next decade, the future of ultrarunning is guaranteed to be fast. After her result, though, it shouldn’t be a big surprise if we see more marathon champions moving up in distance to the 50K or longer in the coming years. For many pros, the marathon is the final stage of their career, and after they reach their peak over 42.2K, they retire from professional running altogether. Linden might have just inspired her peers to postpone their retirements, though, and dive into ultras like she did, and if that turns out to be the case, we could see many more ultrarunning records broken in the near future. 

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Linden’s career is far from over

If there were any doubters who thought Linden should throw in the towel and retire, she definitely silenced them with her 50K result. At this point, her marathoning career is still far from over, but her run on Tuesday showed that, even when she chooses to retire from the marathon, she has a bright future ahead of her in ultrarunning (if she wants to pursue it). 

50K really is the new marathon 

When Linden first announced that she was going to shoot for the 50K record, she tweeted “50K is the new marathon.” She turned out to be right about that, because she basically ran the 50K as if it were a marathon. She went out fast and never looked back, eventually passing through 42K in 2:31:13. This time is well behind her marathon PB of 2:22:38, but it’s still an elite result. For context, that 2:31 would rank Linden in the top 15 in Canadian history, and even in the top 75 among American marathoners. She proved that she can attack the 50K like she would a marathon, and we expect to see her (and hopefully other elite marathoners) do that again in the future. 

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Ultrarunning is fun to watch 

Lots of runners already knew that ultrarunning was fun to watch, but there were a lot of people out there who didn’t believe that before Tuesday. Linden’s run, though, attracted thousands of viewers, and they weren’t even able to watch the race live. Instead, they were periodically checking Twitter to see how she was doing. Linden proved that ultrarunning is spectator-friendly and stream-worthy, and her presence will likely help grow the sport in the years to come. 

There’s always a silver lining 

Last year was far from ideal for Linden (and for everyone else, really). She kicked off the year by running to a fourth-place finish at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, missing out on a ticket to the Tokyo Games by one spot. Then, she refocused and set her sights on running the Boston and New York City marathons, but both were cancelled due to COVID-19.

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It would have been easy for her to let all of that get to her, but she took a step back instead and found a way to take advantage of her suddenly wide-open schedule. She shifted gears once again and set her sights on the 50K record, and now she’s the fastest woman in history at the distance. When things don’t go your way (which is bound to happen to all runners at some point), look for the silver lining, because Linden is proof that there’s always one to be found. 

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