Commentary editor Logan Guthrie discusses the ultramarathon runner breaking two world records.
Lithuanian athlete Aleksandr “Sania” Sorokin, a leader in the recent revitalization of the sport of ultrarunning, just recently set a new personal and world record for the 100-mile run. Already considered one of the greatest ultramarathon runners in the world, he certainly has gone above and beyond to prove that it is true.
It is impossible to not be in awe of such a physical feat. Last April, Sorokin had set a new world record for the 100 miles at 11 hours, 14 minutes and 56 seconds and a 12-hour distance record of 105.82 miles. But on Jan. 6 at the Spartonian race in Tel Aviv, he broke both of these records making a time of 10 hours, 51 minutes and 39 seconds and 110.23 miles in 12 hours. His pace was at a range between 6:13 and 6:25 per mile at his fastest point.
Sorokin has a very different perspective on running than many athletes. In reference to what he refers to as “radical acceptance,” he says. “There’s only one word to describe the last hours of a race: torture. Time feels like it goes slower. The laps feel like they get longer.” Many people outside the sport would likely consider running for 100 miles as nothing but suffering, but perhaps it is by pushing past those mental barriers is what allows him to complete a task that seems so impossible.
Sorokin, at 40 years old, is a very well-rounded athlete in incredible physical shape, but he has had his ups and downs. After his competitive kayaking career in his younger days ended, he experienced serious weight gain following a turn to junk food, cigarettes and alcohol. He went from a man who started running in 2012 as a means to getting back into shape to becoming one of the greatest long distance runners of all time. When discussing the importance of mental and physical preparation for his long-distance competitions, Sorokin says, “It’s a synergy between the physical and mental states of your body and your mind.”
The amount of calories and fluids that Sorokin consumed in the midst of his world-record run is staggering. He drank various liquids including water, Coca-Cola and a variety of electrolyte drinks totaling a half-liter over the span of the race and several gels, cookies, candy and chips totaling 400 calories per hour of the Spartonian. This totals out to be 6 liters of liquid and 4,800 calories by the end.
Previous ultramarathon world record holder Zach Bitter is anything but bitter in his praise of Sorokin for his efforts, turning to Twitter to say, “Yet another incredible performance and historic day for Sania Sorokin, becoming the first person to break 11 hours for 100 miles!” It truly was a historic day for the sport and for Sorokin. While we all can’t wait to see what he and other ultrarunners will accomplish in the future, he can always look back on this run with a sense of pride and achievement.