Des Linden was known as Desiree Davila when she first broke the 5-minute barrier in the mile as a Hilltop High School freshman. On a deserted bike path Tuesday outside Eugene, Oregon, Linden ran 31 miles in a row — averaging 5 minutes, 47 seconds.
The 2018 Boston Marathon champ thus crushed the world record for 50 kilometers by more than 7 minutes — 20 years after graduating from Hilltop.
The pride of Chula Vista achieved her goal and them some — clocking 2 hours, 59 minutes and 54 seconds on a 5-mile loop course.
“As we got in there, I was like, ‘I feel pretty good, let’s err on the other side of 5:45 [per mile pace],’” she told Runner’s World. “We probably banked a little bit too much time. It got hard the last five [miles], but I knew we had that time.”
After 20 marathons, this was her first venture beyond 26.2 miles.
In early March, she said: “I feel like I just want to crush this record, because I think it’s so attainable, but also, you have to absolutely respect the distance. It’s like when you do your first marathon. You have no idea what it’s going to feel like after 20 miles. It’s managing what I think is the right pace and also respecting what’s been done in the past and finding the sweet spot.”
The record bid was said to be a creation of her agent, former men’s 50K record-holder Josh Cox — who grew up in El Cajon — and her sponsor Brooks.
The 50K distance isn’t contested often, but the listed women’s record is 3:07:20 by Great Britain’s Aly Dixon, set at the 2019 world championships in Brasov, Romania. The former American record was 3:13:51 by Janis Klecker in 1983.
A two-time Olympian, Linden lives in Charlevoix, Michigan, off Lake Michigan in the northwest section of the state’s Lower Peninsula.
“She logged 496 miles over 31 days of October, a challenge she called #RunDestober, completing the same mileage as the date each day (one mile on October 1 all the way to 31 miles on October 31),” said Women’s Running. “That last day of the month was her longest ever. To make it more meaningful, she traveled … to complete the challenge in Central Park in New York, crossing the finishing line near Tavern on the Green on the Sunday the New York City Marathon would have taken place.”
At a rainy-cold Boston Marathon three years ago, Linden became the first American woman to win the prestigious race since 1985, clocking 2:39:55. On Tuesday, at age 37, she passed the 26.2-mile point in 2:31:12.