In his remarkable and still unfinished career, the Scotsman Don Ritchie (see Exercises 8.18), who was born on July 7, 1944, has set nine world best times on the track at 50 km (twice), 64 km (40 miles), 80 km (50 miles; twice), 100 km, 150 km, 160 km, and 200 km and three world records on the roads at 100 km on a certified course, 100 km on an uncertified course, and 160 km. He also has a formidable road racing record and has won eight major European 100-km races at least once each.
Ritchie first began running competitively as a track runner when he joined the Aberdeen Athletic Club in September 1963 and began competing at distances from 400 to 1600 m in the following year at age 19. By 1966 he was training 120 km per week, and he ran his first marathon in that year, finishing in 2:42. In 1967 he trained harder, finishing second in the Scottish Marathon Championships in 2:27:48. The following year he improved his marathon time further to 2:24:48.
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His first ultramarathon race was the 1970 58-km Two Bridges race in Scotland, in which he finished seventh in 3:50:50. During the next 4 years he continued to race cross-country, on the track, and on the road at distances up to the marathon and achieved his fastest-ever time for 16 km (49:54) and greatest distance run in 1 hour (19.241 km). In his first London-to-Brighton race in 1974 he finished third in 5:25:00. His first major international successes came in April 1977 with a world 50-km record of 2:51:38 followed by victory in September 1977 in the London-to-Brighton race in 5:16:05, at that time the fourth fastest-ever time. Later that year he ran a world 15-km/100-mile best of 11:30:51. The following year he won the London-to-Brighton in 5:13:02 at the fastest average pace until then, and he won the Hartola 100 km in 6:18:00, also the then-fastest time. Also
Exercises 8.18 Don Ritchie after 48 km in the 1978 London-to-Brighton race, which he won in 5:13.02. In 1978 he set world track records at 80 km (4:53:28), 100 km (6:10:20), and 160 km (11:30:51) and world road records at 80 km (4:51:48) and 100 km. In June 1979, he added the world 160-km road best (11:51:12) and improved his own world 50-km best to 2:50:30.
A period of injuries followed, but in October 1982 he returned with a world 100-km road best of 6:28:11 in the Santander race in Spain. A month later in the Barnet Copthall track 100-km race in North London, he set a new world 64-km (40-mile) best of 3:48:35, and the following year he broke his own 50-mile record with 4:50:11. In October 1983 on the Coatbridge track, at age 39, he set the world 200-km track record of 16:32:30 despite having to contend with gale force winds and lashing rain for most of the race, and in the same year ran his best marathon of 2:19:34 in the London Marathon.
Despite the advance of the years, Ritchie has slowed hardly at all. In 1984 he ran 5:28:27 in the London-to-Brighton race with a world Veteran’s record of 5:07:08 for 50 miles. In February 1985 he ran 2:56:51 for 50 km, and in April of that year he completed the London Marathon in 2:21:26. His most recent
Excellent performance was the Veteran’s record of 6:36:02 for the 100-km Turin-to-St. Vincent race in Italy in May 1986.
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