On Saturday, September 17th and Sunday, September 18th, the 24 Hours of Europe racing championship took place in Verona (Italy), with 137 men and 99 women competing, and 21 countries participating in the men’s team event.
Patrycja Bereznowska from Poland and Aleksandr Sorokin from Lithuania are the European Champions of the competition. Patrycja completed 256.2 km and Aleksandr Sorokin set new IAU World Records (requires ratification) with 319.6 km. Aleksandr Sorokin bested his previous 24-hour record from 2021, when he ran 309.4 kilometres in 24 hours, beating the legendary Yiannis Kouris‘ 1997 record of 303.3 km.
The competition in Verona takes place on a 1.526 km long track. In the first four hours, Sorokin ran almost 60 km and was more than 6 km ahead of the closest competitors. Sorokin averaged a 4:30/km pace over the 24-hour period.
Two more Lithuanians, Ruslanas Seitkalijevas and Andrius Preibys, also started in the European 24-hour running championship, and participated in the men’s team event. The Lithuanian team came in second, running 817.9 km, while the Polish team came first with 825.5 km.
Over the last seven years Sorokin has worked his way to the top of the international 24-hour contest, with what Canadian Running calls his “fast-starting style and never-say-die attitude”. In recent years his work has clearly started to pay off with record after record being broken. In 2019, Sorokin had his breakout performance when he ran 278.972 km at Albi, France, to take the world championship.
Sorokin, 41, didn’t start running until 2013, when he was 32. “I began running to get in shape when I weighed 100 kg (220 lb.). At the time I wasn’t playing any sports, just drinking and smoking a lot.” He knew he needed a lifestyle change. “Then I just began running,” he says. “The thing about running is you can do more than you think you are capable of,” Sorokin says. He is motivated by the unlimited challenges in the sport and inspired by the running community. “I hope that my journey has inspired others to chase their goals.”
Sorokin fuels with a mix of water, electrolyte drinks, and Coke, and consumes about 400 calories per hour from a variety of gels, chips, cookies, and candy. “It’s a synergy between the physical and mental states of your body and your mind,” Sorokin said of his mind-boggling performances. He emphasizes the importance of both physical and mental preparation for ultradistance events, particularly through the mentally taxing night portion of longer races. Sorokin currently holds seven world records: the 6-hour record of 98.5 km, 100K (6 hours, five minutes), 100 miles (10 hours, 51 minutes), 12 hours (177.4 km) and the new 24-hour record.