Ultra running is a strange thing, we all know that, but one of the special strains of madness it encompasses is the 24-hour race. This year, the IAU 24 Hour World Championships were held in Belfast in Northern Ireland. It is a simple premise: run as far as you can in 24 hours, but behind that premise is a world of pain and determination. This year, the drama quotient was high with records smashed and just metres separating the men’s one and two.
It was a great day for the women’s race as Patrycja Bereznowska (Poland) set a new World and European record distance of 160.53 miles – breaking that 160-mile barrier. It was also a great day for Poland, with three places on the podiums. Yoshihika Ishikawa (Japan) won the men’s race.
The event, which was held in Victoria Park, also incorporated the World Masters 24-hour Championships as well as the AAI National 24-hour Championships. Nearly 400 of the world’s best ultra-distance athletes from 42 countries took part.
Incredibly after 24 hours of running, only metres separated the men’s winner Yoshihika Ishikawa and Sweden’s Johan Steene. Yoshihika came through late, passing then leader Tamas Rudolf (Hungary) with under two hours remaining. Just when it looked like he had cemented top spot, Johan surged through into first with minutes remaining. Just one minute was left when Johan entered his final lap with Yoshihika behind, but the Japanese star managed to battle back to finish in the lead as the clock struck 24:00:00. A fantastically dramatic finish.
Yoshihika covered 166.27 miles (267.57km). Johan’s finishing distance of 165.61 miles gave him 2nd place and he also broke the long standing Swedish National record. Sebastian Bialobrzeski (Poland) came third with 165.00 miles.
Britain’s Dan Lawson gets a shout out as he was in third place behind Hungary’s Tomas Rudolf and the Czech Republic’s Radek Brunner after 18 hours of the men’s event before pulling out because of injury.
For the women, it was in the second half that Patrycja Bereznowska took the lead after American Katalin Nagy led during the early hours. She is the current World and European record holder and Patrycja showed her class, with a new personal best distance of 160.53 miles (258.3k). Breaking through the 160-mile barrier is a significant step for ladies’ 24-hour running.
It looked like Katalin would secure 2nd place and the associated silver medal, but an impressive finish saw Poland’s Aleksandra Niwinska pass Katalin to finish on 156.02 miles. Katalin was forced to settle for 3rd place with 154.71 miles.
In the team competitions, Japan won the men’s and the USA triumphed in the women’s.