Fionna Ross (Harmeny AC) has broken the Scottish women’s 24-hour record at the annual Self Transcendence 24-hour track race, held at Tooting Bec track, in London.
Along the way, over September 20/21, the Harmeny AC athlete also set a new mark for 200km and beat all the men to win the race outright.
The whole goal of a 24-hour race is to see how much distance you can cover in the timespan.
In this particular event, it involved circling the 400m track, with each lap of every runner, being meticulously recorded.
Ross, 34, managed to run 582 laps to record 232.905 kilometres, or 144 miles 1267 yards, beating the existing record set by Sharon Law (Garscube) by over 4 miles. Law had set the mark at 226.107km (140m 872 yards) at the World 24-Hour championships in Holland in 2013.)
Fionna also eclipsed Law’s 200km record by over 18 minutes as well, recording 20 hours 28 min 41 sec. She also achieved a rare feat, but not unkown in longer ultra races, of beating all the men, and winning the race outright.
In fact, in an incredible display of ‘girl power’ women filled the first three places in the race; with fellow GB ultra international Issy Wykes (Truro AC, Cornwall) pushing Ross hard in the last few hours to record 230.100 km (142 miles 1719 yds) and fellow Scot, Noanie Heffron (Kilbarchan) with 212.863 km (132miles 406 yds) in third.
A very tired Ross, who was running her second 24-Hour event and earlier this summer won the 95 mile West Highland Way race, said afterwards: ‘That was the hardest race I have run yet, I knew Issy was closing on me, slowly in the last few hours, so I couldn’t afford to let up at all. But it probably helped both of us to achieve the final distances we did.
‘I had hoped going into the race that if all went well I could get close to Sharon’s record, but you never know how these races will evolve. I am absolutely shattered, but very happy indeed. I am so pleased for Issy, too, as she ran such a strong race.’
Wykes, 36, was running her first 24-hour event after wining the 145 mile Grand Union Canal race from Birmingham to London earlier this year. She said: ‘It hasn’t really sunk in yet, I am absolutely thrilled. My goal was to try and achieve the GB team qualifying distance for the World 24 hr champs next year 210 km (131 miles), but just didn’t expect I could run over 140 miles.’
Both athletes distances are indeed exceptional. As well as putting Ross as No 1 in the Scottish all time rankings, it puts her fith all time on the GB 24-hour lists, and Wykes into sixth place.
In perspective, only four of GB’s outstanding ultra runners of recent years – Emily Gelder, Hilary Walker, Eleanor Robinson and Lizzy Hawker – have run further in 24 hours.
Ross’s other intermediate marks were 50 miles in 7h46m20; 100km 9h 43m 34 s 12 hours, 122.6k; 100miles in 16h 11m 32s.
Race report Adrian Stott