Last weekend, Lithuanian ultrarunner Aleksandr Sorokin shattered the 24-hour world record, covering 309.4 km in a day during a race in Poland. On the way to his record, Sorokin averaged 4:39 per kilometre for 309 of them.
Sorokin, who turns 40 this year, now has four world records on his resume. He also owns the world record for 150 kilometres (10:27:48), 100 miles (11:14.56), and 12 hours (170.3 kilometres). His overall pace for the 12-hour record was 4:14 per kilometre.
We interviewed Sorokin after his 24-hour world record to learn how he got into ultrarunning, and what motivates him to chase world records.
Sorokin wasn’t always a runner. He did not begin running until 2013 when he was 32. “In my youth, I was a kayak-sprinter who competed for the national team and at youth world championships, then I had an injury,” he says. “I began running to get in shape when I weighed 100 kg (220 lb.). At the time I wasn’t playing any sports, just drinking and smoking a lot.” He knew his lifestyle needed a change. “Then I just began running,” he says.
After a few months of training, Sorokin ran a half marathon. A few weeks later, he saw an advertisement for a 100 km race in Lithuania. “Then my ultrarunning life began,” he says.
“The thing about running is you can do more than you think you are capable of,” Sorokin says. He is motivated by the unlimited challenges in the sport and inspired by the running community. “I hope that my journey has inspired others to chase their goals.”
Sorokin set both the 100-mile and the 12-hour world records earlier this year, giving him the confidence to go after the 24-hour mark he has been dreaming about. “The pandemic has helped my training, since my work has closed down, allowing me to concentrate on running,” he says. (Sorokin works at a casino) “My coach, Sebastian Białobrzeski, deserves a lot of credit. He has been flexible, working with me through the pandemic to achieve my goals.”
We asked Sorokin about his nutrition during the 24-hour race. What does he put into his body to give him fuel? “Junk food is my fuel,” he says. “I will often eat a lot of chips, chocolate, cookies, candy and drink Coca-Cola during races.” Junk food is high in calories and sodium, which is exactly what you need when you are constantly burning a ton of energy. “My special drinks contain a mix of Precision Hydration and Maurten,” he says.
Sorokin took a chance that paid off at his 100-mile record run earlier this year. “A friend of mine gave me pair of Nike Alphafly’s to try before the race. I liked the softness of the shoe. I took the risk of wearing the Nike Alphafly during the race,” he says. “I find that cushioning is important when running long distances.”
Sorokin dreams of continuing his running career and pushing boundaries further. “I hope to compete at next year’s world 24-hour championships or run a race in the U.S,” he says. But for right now, I need to rest.”