How far could you run in 12 hours? Dominika Stelmach’s answer to that question is more than 152 kilometers (more than 94 miles) and a new women’s world record.
The Polish runner set a new women’s 12-hour world record of 152.633 kilometers (94.841 miles) on Thursday, January 5, 2023. Stelmach had entered in the 24-hour heat of the 2023 Spartanion race, put in those kilometers in the first half of the race, and did not finish the remainder.
Stelmach’s average pace for 12 hours comes out to 4:44 minutes per kilometer (7:35 minutes per mile).
Her provisional distance eclipsed Camille Herron’s prior record of 149.130 kilometers (92.665 miles), which the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) previously verified, by about 3.5 kilometers (about 2.2 miles). This ratified mark had stood since 2017 at the Desert Solstice Track Invitational.
Stelmach’s performance also surpassed another unratified-by-the-IAU performance by Herron, where she ran 151.111 kilometers (about 93.9 miles) for 12 hours, by roughly 1.5 kilometers.
Stelmach told the story of her remarkable run in vivid detail via social media. Auto-translated (roughly) from her native Polish, the account veers between Stelmach’s determination to capture Herron’s record and the onset of her period, which occurred just as she and her family landed in Tel Aviv, Israel, for the race.
For an ultrarunner vying to set a world record, the Spartanion race is a good race to target. Situated in Tel Aviv’s Gane Yehoshu’a Park, it crosses no roads and is extremely flat: each 1,460.23-meter lap only features 3 meters of elevation change.
Because of Stelmach’s specific condition, though, the challenges mounted.
“Unfortunately, the obligatory visits to the toilet (every 2 hours) knocked me out of my rhythm,” she wrote (auto-translated). “However, up to 75 kilometers, I was running great, at ease.”
Stelmach’s husband even worried about her, urging her to tap out of the race and seek respite at their hotel, she said.
Not to be. The world record holder persevered.
“[T]here is an iron thought in your head that you have to tighten your teeth,” Stelmach wrote.
As race organizers noted in a Facebook post, Stelmach’s performance will need to be ratified by the IAU.
Stelmach told Israeli media the following: “I believed that I can do it … I managed to break the world record as well and I was very happy” (auto-translated).
Regardless, she closed her Instagram post on an upbeat note.
“It’s a beautiful start to the year!” she wrote.