Last Updated on January 4, 2022 by Jimson Lee
Many years ago, back in the 1980s, I read an article on Runners World about this single day challenge. Or The Runner magazine, which I thought was the better magazine.
The Ultimate Runner consisted of a 10K road race in the early morning, followed by 3 track events mid-day (400m, 100m and Mile), and ending with a full 26.2 mile marathon by late afternoon or early evening.
The only article I could find was Larry Weber’s Original Ultimate Runner Competition.
It sounds like hell, worse than a single day decathlon, or an Icosathlon, which is simply a Double Decathlon. Or a single say Icosathlon! Imagine the last 2 events… Triple Jump, then 10,000 meters!
Now, I never attempted this in a single day, but I have run all these events in my lifetime. So I took out the official IAAF scoring calculator, and entered my known PBs.
- 100m – 10.92 = 909 points
- 400m – 48.36 = 958 points
- Mile – sub 5 min? = 464 points
- 10K – 40:10 = 286 points
- Marathon – 3:55 = 36 points
= 2653 Total points
So looking at the points table, it’s crystal clear sprinting was by ‘best event’, especially the 400m. Duh!
How did YOU do? If you’ve done these 5 running events, and have legit times for them, please enter in the comments below.
My Personal Stories
100m, 10.92 (+2.1)
I remember this race, as I was beaten by Russell Brooks (aka Russell Parkway) well before he went to the USA for school. This was 1991, and he won and ran 10.91 (I came 2nd), but the race had a +2.1m/s tailwind, so technically, it doesn’t count. But like a decathlon, points are points, regardless of the wind gauge.
I can honestly say the weekend of the 1992 Canadian Nationals Championships was the highlight of my open or “Senior” career. Being from Montreal, we had to trek across the country to Vancouver (Coquitlam, actually), and our coach, Dennis Barrett, didn’t accompany us. Teammates Lenroy Henry & Nicole Commissiong also represented MAC – McGill Athletic Club.
People talk about the 10,000 hour rule, and this Nationals was the end of Year 7 of dedicated training (5 days a week, for 48 weeks). I firmly believe in the 10,000 hour rule, for work, music, art, and sports. Others may disagree.
The race was two rounds, I forget the lane I had, but I ran that race with a very fast opening 200m, and paid the price over the last 100m. The key was to qualify by PLACE (top 3, with next 2 fastest losers) and I managed to place 2nd with a 48.36. Safe into the Finals.
The next day was the finals, and I ran the opposite strategy with a slower opening 200, only to be behind the leaders. I started kicking like mad at 200, like Butch Reynolds in 1988 Olympic Final, going from 8th to 5th in the last 120 meters. The time? 48.37. That race included placing higher than Byron Goodwin, Patrice Doucet, and (the late) Duane Amphlette.
No matter how you slice & dice the race, it will always be 400m. How you race it is up to you.
Mile, sub 5 minutes?
This one is tricky, as at one point, I was considering moving up to the 800m. (I did eventually run a 1:59 800m, and a 1:21 600m). I worked in a gym at the time, and one of the test was running on a treadmill, 12mph (5 minute mile) with a 1% gradient, for 5 minutes. I did accomplish that only to go into oxygen debt at about 90 seconds. The last 3.5 minutes were hell.
SIDENOTE: the other test is 12mph, 20% gradient for 60 seconds, which was pure hell after 30 seconds. There weren’t many people in that Gym that could do this, until Triathlete Andrew McMartin came along, and did 2:15!!
The other “race” was the inaugural Montreal “Hotel Competition” on August 28, 1988, which included a 4 x 1 Mile relay. I led off, along with teammates Claude Bastien, Charbel “Charles Labelle” Aoun, and my coach Dennis Barrett. I do recall someone telling my split was “around 4:40” but it’s possible the course was 1500m. I can do a google map and check :)
Then again, we really can’t trust splits, can we?
It’s clear that cardio is not my strong point. I always wanted to break 40 min in a 10k (my 5K times were always in the 19 min area) and this was a rare road race in Chateauguay, my “hometown”. I remember this race only because I had a pair of the famous Adidas Marathon 80’s. Super super light. Yes, the ones that were made famous by Paula Radcliffe, and many others.
It’s sad that I could never break 40 minutes for a 10K :( My high school teammates, David McGruer & Martin Lodder, always were considerable faster than me. Don Young moved out of Quebec by Grade 9, so he missed out on the golden years of road racing.
In case people are wondering why I did long distance running, it’s because the Quebec (Canada) school system is similar to the UK. Grade or Year 11 is the last year of high school, followed by 2 years of CEGEP (equivalent to A-Levels, or 6th Form), and finally 3 years of University.
So my ‘road racing years’ were during my ‘lost years’ of Athletics between high school and University.
Crazy as it may seem, for a guy ‘who hates cardio’, but I have completed 5 marathons in my lifetime, in chronological order, during my “lost years”:
- Sept 1979 – 3:40 Montreal International Marathon (suspected short course with 3 loops inside Ile St-Helene)
- Sept 1980 – 3:57:44 Montreal (Starting from Jacques Cartier Bridge)
- May 1981 – 4:20 Champlain Valley Marathon (Rouses Point to Plattsburg, NY)
- Sept 1981 – 3:55 Montreal
- May 1982 – 3:59:34 Champlain Valley Marathon
- May 1982 – DNF Montreal
Notice the 2nd Champlain Valley marathon. By Mile 25, I split 3:51 or 3:52 and knew I had to boogie to break 4 hours.
That last DNF I blame on the weather, because they moved the traditional fall Montreal marathon to USA Memorial Day weekend in late May. We had an unusually hot day, 30C I believe, and all my training was Montreal winter training, so I was not use to the heat.
That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.
But by then, I started University, joined the Varsity team there, focused on long & triple jump (my high school events) and the rest is history.