On Saturday April 24, 2022, Lithuania’s Aleksandr Sorokin set a new world record of 6:05:41 for the 100-kilometer distance.
This broke Japan’s Nao Kazami’s previous record of 6:09:14, which was set at the Lake Saroma 100k in Japan on June 24, 2018. Along the way, Sorokin also set a new six-hour world record of 98.496k, breaking Scottish ultrarunning legend Donald Richie’s 97.200k record, which stood for a staggering 43 years and some months, since October 1978.
Sorokin’s run took place at the Centurion Running Track 100 Mile race, an elite-only event in Bedford, England. The core race was 100 miles, but also incorporated official, ratifiable splits for 50k, 50 miles, 100k, six hours, and 12 hours. You can read more about the event in our news article about Sorokin’s 100k world record.
Incredibly, this is Sorokin’s second world-record-breaking effort of 2022. In earliest January, he also set 100-mile and 12-hour world records at the 2022 Spartanion race in Tel Aviv, Israel.
In an exclusive interview with iRunFar, Sorokin talks about his run and preparation and offers a fascinating insight into the psyche of one of the world’s all-time greatest endurance athletes.
iRunFar: Hi Aleksandr. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview and congratulations on your amazing new world record.
First of all, just to talk a little about your background. I believe you weren’t always a runner? You said in a previous interview with iRunFar that shortly after you took up running you saw an invitation to run a 100k and took it as a sign, setting a personal challenge for yourself to run 100 kilometers.
What was your preparation like for that first 100k? Were you working with a coach then? Did you have a good training structure back then or was it more haphazard?
Aleksandr Sorokin: In my youth I was kayaker, and my results weren’t so good. I was a Lithuanian champion in my youth, though. I raced in the [kayaking] world championships, but the results were average. When I was 25 years old, I got a shoulder injury and decided to finish with sport and begin work. I began to drink a lot of beer and smoke cigarettes, from 2006 to 2013. My weight was about 100 kilograms, and one day I told myself that I needed to stop and change my life.
For my first 100k run, and until 2019, I ran without a coach. Preparing for the first one was just intuitive. I used some information from the internet, and some experience I had from training for kayaking.
iRunFar: Can you tell us a little about what your training looks like now? I understand you are training full time now and working with a coach? What does an average training week look like?
Sorokin: Usually it’s 100 to 300 kilometers per week. It depends on my preparation status. Two or three long runs, one or two speed intervals, and the others are recovery runs.
iRunFar: A lot of people were expecting great things from your run on Saturday. How does this affect you going into a race? Do you feel the expectations for you to perform add pressure in a negative way? Or does it inspire confidence in you?
Sorokin: With experience and results comes responsibility too. I understand what to expect from myself. On the one hand, it’s hard, but it also motivates me more. But I don’t like the week before the competition. There is a lot of panic, fears, and so on.
iRunFar: This was not your first time breaking records at the Centurion Running Track 100 Mile! What was it about this event that you liked and what made you want to run it again?
Sorokin: I came here again because there is a very high organization level, not many races in the world have a gold label. Triple-checking time, laps, and results. Good weather conditions, and good people.
iRunFar: Did you have any other targets along the way before hitting the 100k mark? You set a new Lithuanian national record for 50k at the halfway point, a new six-hour world record, and ran the fourth-fastest 50-mile time on record too. Were you thinking about these splits at all when you were running or were you solely focused on the 100k time?
Sorokin: No, I was concentrated only on 100k, and the others didn’t matter this time. I didn’t know what the records were for 50 miles or six hours.
iRunFar: How did the race go for you? Were there any particular high or low points?
Sorokin: I had few crises. The problem was the wind, I had to fight with it all six hours. I didn’t know until 90k if the record would be or not … The plan was to run the first half on world-record pace, then to see, can I take the pace or not.
iRunFar: How did you manage your nutrition throughout? Is a good nutrition plan for races something you work on in your training?
Sorokin: I don’t work with a nutrition plan in the training. Actually, I try to not eat a lot on the training runs. For example, I can take 500 milliliters of isotonic drink and a banana on a 50k training session.
In a 100k race, almost all the energy I take is from liquid: isotonic drinks, cola, some gels, and possibly banana. The plan is to take around 400 calories per hour, and 500 milliliters per hour.
iRunFar: How did you feel at the finish line, knowing you’d set a new world record for 100k?
Sorokin: In training, when I run, sometimes I think about it, what I will do after the finish of a world-record effort. It will be smiling, happiness, hands in the air, and more. But in reality, after the finish it’s just emptiness, just knowledge: the job is over, no emotions.
iRunFar: It’s a few days after the race now. Have you traveled home yet? And how are you feeling both physically and mentally? I hope you are very proud!
Sorokin: Now I feel a little empty. Just mentally, the job is over, I need to look forward, the season’s just beginning. Now there’s a lot of work with media. It’s not so much happiness, it’s more satisfaction.
iRunFar: What’s next? Do you have any race plans in place for the rest of 2022?
Sorokin: I think the main race is the [IAU] 24-Hour European Championships on September 17. In a few weeks, I need to begin preparing.
iRunFar: Finally, what would you say is your favorite race you have taken part in and why?
Sorokin: I hope this race will be in the future! Now I think there hasn’t been an ideal one … possibly the 24-hour race in Pabianice, Poland [UltraPark Weekend 24 Hour] in 2021.
iRunFar: Thanks a million for taking the time to talk to us and congratulations again!
Sorokin: Thank you very much, too.