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Don Ritchie’s 100K record broken one week after his death

Japanese runner breaks Scottish ultrarunning legend's 40-year record on controversial course

Known as the Stubborn Scotsman, world-renowned ultrarunner Don Ritchie passed away last week at the age of 73. And his 6:10:20 world record in the 100K, set at London’s Crystal Palace back in 1978, still stood–until yesterday, when Japanese runner Nao Kazami bested it by four minutes at the Lake Saroma Ultramarathon in Japan, finishing in 6:09:14.

Ritchie’s record was set on the track at London’s Crystal Palace. It was faster than the road record of 6:13:33 set in 1998 by Takahiro Sunada, also on the Lake Saroma course. Kazami broke both with his performance yesterday. 

The IAAF has yet to acknowledge the record, and there is some controversy over whether the Lake Saroma course is record-quality. (The course is not a complete loop, and the IAAF’s standard on the acceptable distance between the start and finish is less stringent than that of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians.) Regardless, Kazami’s achievement is considerable.


The race, held annually on the northeast shore of Hokkaido, offers 100K and 50K distances. 

Some said Don Ritchie was the greatest ultrarunner the world had ever seen. He held numerous records, of which the 100K was only one. 

According to Athletics Weekly, Ritchie had a marathon PB of 2:19:34.