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American pro marathoner blasts to new 50-mile world record

Boulder's Charlie Lawrence ran a remarkable 4:48:21 at the Tunnel Hill 50-miler, averaging a 3:35 min/km pace

Charlie Lawrence 50-mile WR Photo by: Bare Performance Nutrition

On Saturday, American marathoner Charlie Lawrence reset the 50-mile (80.47 kilometre) world record, running a remarkable 4:48:21 (pending ratification) at the Tunnel Hill 50 Mile ultra in Vienna, Illinois.

Lawrence, 28, took just under two minutes off UTMB champ Jim Walmsley’s former record, set in 2019 at the Hoka One One Project Carbon X event in Cali. On Friday, Lawrence shared on social media that he was heading for a “50 Mile American Record crack tomorrow morning,” and aimed to run at least 5:47/mile (roughly 3:35 per km); he executed a flawless performance, nailing his target.

Lawrence began his 50-mile record attempt conservatively and picked up speed as he neared the 29-mile (46.7 km) mark in a remarkably well-paced ultra-distance race. The pro runner qualified for the 2024 U.S. Olympic marathon trials in October at the McKirdy Micro Marathon in Rockland, N.Y., where he equalled his PB of 2:16:10.

In an interview with semi-pro runner Michael Brandt on Instagram, Lawrence said he knew he was a runner in first grade. “I watched a state cross-country meet, and told my mom and dad: ‘I want to win that and I’m going to win that.’ ” The hardest part of his job as a pro runner? “Not overdoing it.”

The Tunnel Hill 100 and 50 miles races are unique events, classified as both road and trail. The dirt and trail course is sanctioned by USA Track & Field (USATF), meaning runners can aim to smash road (or open) records in both distances. Legendary American ultrarunner Camille Herron destroyed the women’s 100-mile record in 12:42:40 on the course in 2017, capturing the open record (any surface, including track) for the fastest 100-mile run by a woman.

The course is also certified as a trail race by both the American Trail Runners Association and the International Trail Runners Association (because it isn’t paved), and in 2018 American Zach Bitter ran 12:08:36, in what was the world’s best time on an unpaved surface.

Along with Lawrence’s remarkable 50-mile performance, women’s 50-mile course record was smashed by American pro Polina Hodnette, who ran 5:54:14, the fourth fastest 50-mile time in North American history. The 100-mile event saw Bitter’s course record demolished by Swedish runner Elov Olsson, who won in 11:26:19.

Check out the full Tunnel Hill 100/50 Mile results here.

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