Brit sets new world record for fastest 100m in ski boots

Most of us can merely dream of setting running world records based on speed alone, but where there’s a will there’s a way – and usually some unusual attire to go with it. While Runner’s World US staffer Meghan Kita recently set a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon dressed as a fast food item (female), completing a marathon in full hot dog costume in 3:57:49, London-based runner Emma Kirk-Odunubi has sprinted into the record books a little closer to home, setting a new Guinness World Record for the fastest 100m in ski boots – which she completed in 16.86 seconds.

When Kirk-Odunubi, who works as assistant manager at Fulham-based sports shoe shop Profeet, heard about the then current world record set by Germany’s Andre Ortolf (who completed it in 17.65 seconds), she and her colleagues decided to take on the task of breaking it. ‘Ski boot fitting and running biomechanical assessments is what Profeet is all about so this challenge was a fun way to combine the two!’ she told Runner’s World. The attempt took place at Barnes athletic track on 2nd June 2016, but verification from Guinness World Records came through just last week. Her colleague Max Willcocks also broke the male record, completing the distance in 14.09 seconds.

Emma, 24, has been running for three years, having grown up doing athletics and throwing discus and shotput competitively for her county. She’s no stranger to a challenge – in the last two years, she’s completed a 24-hour burpee challenge (doing a stomach-wrenching 7015 burpees) and an indoor Ironman for Cancer Research UK.

With all that to contend with, how did she fit in sprint training? ‘At the time, I was in training for Amsterdam Marathon - my first ever marathon! So I was in the midst of endurance training. I was doing a few sprint interval sessions intertwined but not the extent I would have prior to marathon training.’

While she was on track fitness-wise, Emma’s biggest obstacle was the biomechanical implications created by running in ski boots. ‘The hardest thing is in the knee drive and keeping up the leg turn over. For me the initial sprint start required a lot of drive and my hip flexors were certainly firing all guns blazing! The final 25m required hip flexors to not tire which was tough as the boot certainly added weight. Landed on the forefoot was also a challenge as the boot didn’t flex like a shoe – it’s plastic so made for a slightly adapted style!’

While no female record for the 100m in ski boots existed prior to her attempt, Emma had to complete it in under 22 seconds to make it into the books. ‘I surprisingly did that easily! The last time I’d ever been recorded was at the local schools athletics competition when I was 13 or 14. I managed 100m in just under 14 seconds which at the time I was pretty happy with. So to only add three seconds for an attempt in ski boots I felt wasn’t bad,’ she said.

In comparison to her previous feats, however, this world record was a breeze. ‘I’m not going to lie, it was easier as it only lasted 16.86 seconds whereas my other challenges in comparison were ultra-challenges. The only slight comparison I could make was the reliance on my hip flexors. Ultimately I’d still rather run in a ski boot for longer than 100m than do a 24-hour burpee attempt again!’

 

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Since setting the record, Emma has completed Amsterdam, Brighton and Edinburgh marathons and is now taking a break from long distance challenges. ‘My body is craving a bit of variation. I’m now doing a strength programme to regain my power and condition my body again. At the moment I have no plans for challenges this year. But, in 2018 I’ll be sure to think of another challenge and am open to ideas!'

Watch Emma and Max complete the sprint below.

Photos by Konrad Bartelski