In 1973, British ultrarunner Ron Bentley set the world distance record for running 24 hours straight of 161.3 miles (258K). Bentley died recently at age 88, and the ultrarunning history buff who tweets as @SteelTownRunner has unearthed a wonderful interview with him from the era.
Ron Bentley, who recently passed, set a 24Hr WR in 1973 of 161.3 mi. My Women's 24Hr WR was ratified at 162.9 mi. This is a fascinating look at his training, nutrition, and he's built like an ox!https://t.co/Atlr2YCg0D
— Camille Herron (@runcamille) March 5, 2019
The record was set at an event at Walton-on-Thames, about 30 kilometres southwest of London. Two years previously, Bentley had won the Radox 100-mile race in London with a time of 12:37, which was the third fastest ever recorded. He was a member of the Tipton Harriers running club for many years, and a member of the team that won the Comrades Marathon in 1972.
The American ultrarunner Camille Herron notes that her recent women’s 24-hour world record from the Desert Solstice Invitational in Arizona was just slightly farther than Bentley’s record of 46 years ago. In a tweet, Herron refers to Bentley’s tall, muscular physique as being “built like an ox!” (Herron also won the women’s Comrades Marathon in 2017.)
Britain experienced a running boom in the 1970s similar to the boom taking place in North America, but keep in mind, running was nowhere near as common (nor runners as familiar a sight) as it is today. In the brief film, prepared by ATV, we see Bentley running to his job as a machinist at the Woodsetton Steel Co. Ltd. in Dudley, West Midlands, and he answers questions from interviewer Peter Green about his training and nutrition–and why track racers like Emil Zatopek and Pavo Nurmi seemed to get all the love.