New World Best for 100 Miles
by Andy Milroy  

London - October 21, 2002 - Two Russians surpassed the 25-year-old record for the 100 miles track run at London last Sunday, with Oleg Kharitonov claiming the new mark of 11 hours, 28 minutes and 3 seconds In a race to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Don Ritchie setting the world best for 100 miles, two Russians traveled to the Crystal Palace track in London last weekend. The race was promoted by the British Road Runners Club who had put on the original race at the same venue back on October 15, 1977 and organized by John Foden, one of the originators of the Spartathlon ultradistance race. The bookmakers, William Hill had put up a prize of 5000 pounds if anyone broke Don Ritchie's world best of 11:30:51.

The race started at 8 a.m. on Sunday. Denis Jalybin, 22, took out the pace, despite the cold and damp conditions, tracked by his better known compatriot, Oleg Kharitonov. The two runners vied for the lead through much of the race, Jalybin running even pace whilst Kharitonov would come off to change clothing, or use the toilet, before speeding up and closing down on his younger rival. The runners were handled by a legend in the sport, Konstantin Santalov, perhaps the greatest competitor in the history of the 100 kilometers.

The 150 kilometers mark was reached in 10:34:30 by Jalybin, breaking Ritchie's previous world mark of 10:36:42. At this point the race began in earnest as both men strove for the big prize on offer for a new 100 mile mark.

Kharitonov some four laps behind Jalybin incredibly began running 6 minutes miles -- 93 miles into the race. Jalybin was struggling, pale and looking as if he would drop out.

Jalybin clung on to the lead until the end of the 402nd lap, a mere 135 meters from the finish. Suddenly Kharitonov went by, pushing on to clock a new 100 mile world best of 11:28:03; just over 6:52.8 per mile. It was to take Denis Jalybin nearly two minutes to cover the last 135 meters whereupon he collapsed, looking very pale. Jalybin also broke the old mark, recording 11:29:32.

Oleg Kharitonov was born on April 13, 1968. He is a relative newcomer to ultra running and has vast experience in cross-country skiing. His marathon personal best is 2:24:24 in 1998.

Kharitonov made his debut at the 100 kilometers distance in April 2000 at the European 100-K Championships in France where he clocked 6:47:00 for fourth place. In the World Challenge that year he finished third behind Pascal Fetizon of France, running 6:29:29. Coached by Gregoriy Murzin, winner of the 1998 World 100 kilometers at Shimanto, he looked set to become a major force in the sport.

After this very promising start to his ultra career, 2001 was to be a disappointment, his best performance was in running 7:05:45 for 18th place in the World 100-K in August. However, at the shorter distances he was more successful, setting a personal best of 31:24 for 10-K.

This year did not start off well. Kharitonov did not figure in the World 100-K at Torhout and then was forced to retire in the European Championships at Winschoten in September.

Six weeks later came the opportunity to make good on his early promise and he took it. A world best that had stood 25 years and five days had been broken.

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