CurraNZ ambassador Dr Jo Zakrzewski set a 48-hour world record of 411.458 kilometers (255.668 miles) at the Taipei Ultramarathon the weekend of February 10-12.
Jo, a GP from Scotland living in Australia, surpassed the previous record of 403.32km (250.611 miles) set in May by Patrycja Bereznowska of Poland on May 15, 2022. Notably, in completing doing so, she also bettered the men’s Scottish and British records too.
Jo had never raced a 48-hour event and initially baulked at the idea of it, but then decided the trip would be a good familiarisation for the World 24 hr Champs in Taipei in December.
The record was completely unplanned, Jo coming into the event having recently return to training following injury – and nursing a swelling ankle throughout the race.
She says: “After my hamstring tear, I only restarted running at Christmas so was still very nervous about even starting the event but decided there was no pressure to perform so I might as well.
“There was no Scottish female road record for 48 hours as no-one had ever run one... so it did not matter how far (or not) I ran, it would still be recordable.
“On the Tuesday, I worked a full day, took the overnight flight and arrived solo into Taipei Wednesday morning.
“Unfortunately I didn't sleep much and my body clock stayed on Australia time, so I woke up at 3:30am on race morning, hence had already been awake for almost 12 hours by the time we started (in the pouring rain) at 3pm.
“The course was about 628m of road in a lap, but there were lots of timing mats to trip over on every circuit, especially during the night.
“My right ankle was getting sore within the first 24 hours as I wasn’t running in my natural style, in an attempt to protect my hamstring post-tear. I looked at it on a toilet break and could see that it was red and swollen. I didn't know if I'd be able to continue but took some pain relief and with some determination and grimacing, kept moving.
“My watch screen was turned off to save the battery so I really didn't know how I was doing, but somehow I passed the Scottish men's distance record, then the British female record (set in 1988). Then, as I later found out, the British men's record, set in 1991.
"People were encouraging me that I could break the world record but this was beyond my wildest dreams, especially with the current world-record holder in the race too - and I thought they were having me on.
“The lads gave me a beer when I broke the British record and then another one when I broke the world record, although it's hard to drink beer and run as it keeps frothing up!
“I guess I should have pushed on more after breaking the record at I still had over an hour of the race left, but I wanted my beer, people wanted photos and others wanted to walk and talk to me.
“Still, I came home not really quite understanding or believing what had just happened.”
Jo’s new record adds to her 24-hour UK record of 247.985 kilometers (154.091 miles) at the European Championships in August.
She also holds the Scottish 12-hour, 24-hour, 100-mile and 200-mile records and in 2019 became the fastest woman to run 155 miles across the Namib and Sahara deserts.