On November 11, 2023, on the Tunnel Hill 50 Mile, up-and-coming runner Charlie Lawrence entered the historical past books by breaking the males’s 50-mile world report in a time of 4:48:21.
This time beats the earlier report of 4:50:08, set by Jim Walmsley in 2019, inserting Lawrence proper up there with among the greatest ultrarunners on the planet.
We caught up with him to be taught a bit bit about his background, in regards to the build-up to this report try, and to listen to how issues performed out on the day.
[Editor’s Note: The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.]
iRunFar: Congratulations on the brand new 50-mile world report. You had some sturdy outcomes earlier than this on the street within the marathon and half marathon distance. Might you briefly speak us by means of your background as a runner?
Charlie Lawrence: I coach about 14 or 15 folks, and I’ve been within the sport for a very long time. My mother was my highschool cross-country coach, and my dad was a monitor coach after I was born. Lengthy story brief, my mother and father acquired divorced after I was in first grade. So, in second grade, it was both go to cross nation and monitor with my mother or go to daycare.
It developed from there all over highschool. [My coach through college] is one in every of my greatest associates, greatest mentors within the sport, and I actually wouldn’t have gotten the shot I did after school with out him. I used to be not a rockstar in school, I used to be first rate, All Area in cross nation.
[Editor’s Note: Lawrence ran cross country at the University of Minnesota, an NCAA Division I school.]
We set our eyes on simply getting a half marathon proper after school. He continued to teach me after which in spring 2018 I did the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Minnesota, only a couple hours up the street from Minneapolis [where I lived then], and ran 64:14. On the time I used to be like, that’s a reasonably strong basis with the half distance.
Everybody began asking, “Are you going to run a marathon?” I stared to think about a U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, and the usual at the moment was 2:19. I’m like, yeah, it might be a cool type of bucket record factor, simply to qualify for the trials. So, we selected the USATF Marathon Highway Championships [at the California International Marathon] in 2018 to be my shot at a qualifier time.
I used to be working a full-time job in ticket gross sales and likewise ending my graduate diploma, so it was a reasonably busy fall and summer time. I acquired it executed in 2:16:10 there as my marathon debut. I say this lots now, however 2:16:10 in 2018 was lots higher than it’s these days. It was nonetheless the early growth of tremendous footwear and all that.
I’ve now been out right here [living and running in Boulder, Colorado,] for 4 years or so and had some fairly common outcomes, honestly, simply been getting wholesome. I used to be out all of 2022 with a stress fracture after which had some first rate outcomes for positive. I assume that’s the lengthy story brief.
iRunFar: You’re nonetheless fairly new to lengthy distances then. Was this your first extremely or had you executed 50 kilometers earlier than?
Lawrence: I’ve executed 50k. Off the bat and fairly lucky, an individual who I owe a ton of credit score to, is Des Linden. I knew her husband Ryan first, however we adopted one another on Instagram and she or he simply stated messaging forwards and backwards, “When you want something, let me know.” We saved in contact over a pair beers and occasional right here and there, some runs.
Then in 2021 she talked about, with races canceled [because of the COVID-19 pandemic], that she wished to take a stab on the 50k world report, and I used to be like, “Hey, if I may also help in any means, let me know. I can tempo you if that was one thing you’d be all in favour of.” And he or she was like, “Effectively yeah, I’ll want a pacer for it.” So, it simply labored out that, already being a pal of hers, and as somebody I look as much as lots, it was an incredible alternative. I paced her for that 50k [where she set the then 50k world record].
I ran the USATF 50k Highway Championships seven weeks after that and blew up. Actually, I didn’t respect the gap. I went for the win means too early, began working 5-minute miles, a few sub-5s, and simply blew up. I ran 3:09 or one thing. I used to be fairly frankly fairly embarrassed with it. However once more, a studying expertise, you’ve acquired to respect it. So, to an extent, that was my extremely distance expertise. I’d run, I assume, 5 marathons. However my favourite day of the week is Sunday long term.
iRunFar: With the 2023 Tunnel Hill 50 Mile, in your social media, you nailed your colours to the mast by calling it out as a report try beforehand. How lengthy had you had this concept to attempt to break the 50-mile world report?
Lawrence: Honestly, about two years. In 2021, I’m undecided if you recognize who Fernando Cabada is, however he’s somebody I’ve identified since my first race post-collegiately. I watched him win the USTAF Marathon Highway Championships again in 2008 after I was in center faculty. He’s somebody I can bounce stuff off. I used to be having dinner with Fernando in 2021, that fall, and he was doing a little extremely stuff himself. I instructed him I wished to go for the 50-mile American report [which was also the world record].
Sadly, I got here down with a grade-four stress fracture that January. In order that undoubtedly put it on maintain. However he’s the one who was like, “You are able to do it, you need to do it at Tunnel Hill.” I by no means heard of the race earlier than that. It’s type of been on my radar, I assume. This objective actually got here up two years in the past.
iRunFar: The report you broke was set by Jim Wamsley. Did it make it extra intimidating, or extra interesting, to have such a giant title hooked up to the report?
Lawrence: Actually, not intimidating in any respect. Some folks undoubtedly snigger at it and there’s undoubtedly part of overconfidence on my aspect due to how, I don’t need to say easy, however I may on any given day go run 30 miles at 5:40 per mile tempo in Boulder. There’s half that’s mentally — it’s solely 20 miles, you have to do 20 miles extra at that tempo, and once you issue within the altitude. So actually not intimidated in any respect.
I knew it was a tall job, so you bought to go do it. My largest day ever in observe was 35 miles, so there’s nonetheless the unknown of 15 miles, and for lots of people 15 miles continues to be a long term, so that you’re stacking lots on it. However no, undoubtedly simply tremendous, tremendous assured in myself and the work I put in the previous few months. Nearly overly assured, honestly, however on the similar time that’s how I get for these races. Simply really consider I can do it.
iRunFar: Your pacing technique — you appeared to begin slower and ease into it. Was that the plan and the way did that work out?
Lawrence: Truly, it was a multitude, however the [the published splits from the race] had been means off.
iRunFar: Oh, okay! What really occurred then?
Lawrence: Yeah, I had some huge cash within the financial institution. I used to be below 5:40 for each mile [in the first half of the race.] My first mile at 5:40 was mile 25, it was 5:40 even. So, I had a variety of time within the financial institution.
iRunFar: Have been there any low factors within the second half or had been you capable of maintain that effort pretty properly?
Lawrence: No, it acquired exhausting. It acquired actually exhausting. I needed to actually decide to it and keep on it.
Comparatively, it’s a flat, quick course — however there’s a stretch from roughly mile 30 to mile 38 or 39, it’s all uphill, it’s nothing steep however you’re climbing the complete time. Which is nice, however on the similar time I have already got 30-ish miles in my legs at 5:40 tempo. I needed to put a variety of effort in to keep up tempo up that.
Then you definitely flip round, you’ve gotten this downhill going again house after you undergo the tunnel, it’s nice. Clearly you’re working downhill towards the end the final eight, 9 miles. However at that time, I’d caught to it actually exhausting for 30 to 40 miles to verify I had it. My quads had been fairly fried from climbing and the 40 miles prior, so working downhill didn’t really feel nice.
iRunFar: What’s subsequent for you? Have you ever acquired anything in thoughts?
Lawrence: Brief time period, I’ve the Olympic Marathon Trials developing in 80 days. That’s actually the plan, to possibly get a quick half, to run the Houston Half Marathon to work on some pace.
Past that, a giant objective is the USATF 100k Highway Championships developing, so far as I do know, subsequent fall. I’d like to go get a title there.
I do know issues change with [the International Association of Ultrarunners] and every little thing, however we’d like to additionally attempt to chase a U.S. 50k title down the street, make a worlds group there.
And to be aggressive on the marathon, as a result of I believe being environment friendly on the marathon and having the ability to run 5:10 per mile and even faster helps exponentially with having the ability to run 5:40 to five:50 tempo for a 50 miles, or 5:50 to 6-minute tempo, for 100k. So completely if you are able to do that, you’re competing for world medals.
iRunFar: You may have tons to look ahead to. Thanks a lot for taking the time to speak, and I hope you get well properly.