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Des Linden’s 50km Record

Des Linden Record: the 50km

The 50km Des Linden record can be an inspiration to us all. 
Many of us dream about setting PBs; for some of us, it’s what motivates us to get out the door with our trainers on. But few of us have attempted to set a record as ambitious as Des Linden’s record attempt. 
While she was well-known for her marathon successes, holding an impressive PB of 2:22:38 (set in Boston, ten years ago in 2011) and representing the USA at two Olympic finals, Des had never actually raced a distance any further than the revered 42.2km. Until, that is, the 13th April 2021 when she set out to beat the 50km record….

The 50km Des Linden Record

In fact, Des Linden is not your average athlete. So, it comes as no surprise that the Des Linden record for the 50km became the hot topic for runner’s all around the world. She describes herself as a ‘coffee aficionado’ (we hope she’s read our blog on the subject – although considering she runs her own specialty coffee company, I suspect she probably has! (Click here for our Benefits of Caffeine article). As well as being a self-professed connoisseur of Bourbon, she seems to take almost as much pleasure in the celebrations as the victories themselves. 

In fact, following her tremendous victory at the Boston Marathon in 2018 (the first American to win the revered race for 33 years), she posted a video on social media of her enjoying swigs of champagne from her running shoe! Hopefully not one of the pair that accompanied her on that day’s marathon, but you never know… 

Perhaps it is the way she doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously that has led her to capture the hearts of so many, all of whom were rooting for her as she announced she would attempt to smash the 50km record – previously set at 3:07:20 by Brit Aly Dixon in September 2019.

Thirty-seven-year-old Linden is trained by Josh Cox, who himself is no stranger to running 50k himself. But Cox has not only completed a couple 50k’s. In fact, he holds the American record, having completed the distance in 2:43:45 back in 2011 – missing out on the word record by an excruciating seven seconds, which still stands since 1988. He’s also been keen to push for 50km to be classed as an official distance – at the minute, it’s only a distance in the race-walk category of the Olympics.

Des Linden Record: a Seven Min Shave

Linden’s record attempt took place in Oregon, in a small-scale event along a peaceful, flat cycle track. The attempt also marked her first foray into ultra-marathon distances; and what a way to start running ultras! She passed the half-marathon mark in an admirable 75:51, completed the full-marathon distance in a nauseating 2:31:12. 

However, perhaps the most impressive is that she maintained an unswerving and impressive pace of 5:46/47-minute miles (that’s a stomach-churning 3:35 minute/km) throughout the whole 50 kilometres. She crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 59 minutes and 54 seconds, shaving a not-inconsiderable seven minutes off Aly Dixon’s previous record. This marked new Des Linden record added another success to her already impressive career.

More than Just a Record Breaker

Des Linden was born Desiree Davila, in San Diego, California, in July 1983. She went on to study for degrees in religious studies and psychology at Arizona State University, where she also represented her college across a variety of distances. Linden has qualified for, and represented the USA, twice in Olympics – registering a DNF in the London 2012 marathon, but finishing seventh in Rio 2016. She finished fourth in the Olympic trials for Tokyo and perhaps it was this that inspired her to try her hand (or should that be feet?) at ultra-distances. 

What’s more, she has also hinted that the trails may be calling in the future. With so much talent and determination, it will surely be fascinating to see what Des Linden achieves next…Des

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