Long distance running has thrown up some of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen, because of the pure difficulty of the event, spectators realize the commitment and the dedication needed to perform at the highest level of long distance running.
Marathon running, and 5 & 10K races, have captured the imagination of audiences throughout the world and in Olympic events of recent times there have been fascinating competitions and head to head duels. In this blog we look at some of the best long-distance runners that have ever lived.
Not to mince words, Haile Gebrselassie has to be the greatest ever African runner of all time. He can be held up as an example of what an endurance athlete should be. His record stands head and shoulders above everybody with 13 world records in different events over a 21-year career.
Long distance running is dominated by athletes in their twenties, and this Ethiopian runner was still breaking records when he was nearly forty. Gebrselassie’s marathon record in 2008 at the Berlin Marathon still makes him the third fastest human in history. And it is even more incredible when you think he was thirty-five years old when he posted the record.
Paavo Nurmi is the most decorated long-distance runner of all time. During his long and fruitful career, he won an amazing 453 competitive races. His undefeated run of consecutive races of 800m or greater went for 121 events.
His career spanned fourteen years and he never once was defeated in the 10,000 meters or a cross country race. Nurmi was a true professional and had a strict training regime. His final racing accolade was that at the same time he held world records for the mile, 5K and the 10K.
Zatopek was nicknamed the Czech Locomotive and his legendary performance at the 1952 Olympics is considered to be one of the most classic performances in history. He made a stunning comeback in the race to come from behind in the last lap, and in doing so he set an Olympic record.
His favorite events at first were middle distances, but he developed a love of marathons really on a whim at the 1952 Olympics. He entered the marathon and won the race with ease and whilst he did so he set yet another Olympic record. Zatopek was the best long-distance runner to ever run for the Czech Republic.
In modern times long distance runners appeared more often in growing media channels and Said Aouita was probably the first distance runner to benefit from this increased press coverage. He was the world’s first globally famous distance runner and athlete.
He was just as comfortable running the 1,500m as 5,000m races, and indeed at one time he held concurrent records in four different middle-distance events. Said struggled with injuries throughout his latter career and if this was not the case he might have dominated world middle distance running right into the mid-90’s. We continue this blog in part two of the blog of the greatest long-distance runners of all time.