Over 46 laps for world endurance record: ‘Mental challenge for Hassan’

“The world endurance record in athletics is very unusual”, says athletics commentator Léon Haan. “Of course, an hour’s running in athletics is not a problem for many athletes, but it is when it’s on the track.”

Still, Sifan Hassan is going to try it Friday night. She has to run more than 46 laps on the athletics track to improve the world endurance record. The 27-year-old athlete will attack the current record during the Diamond League match Memorial Van Damme in Brussels, Belgium.

Just like ten other athletes, but with Hassan, the Kenyan athlete Brigid Kosgei and Lonah Chemtai Salpeter from Israel as favourites. The current world endurance record is since 2008 in the name of Dire Tune from Ethiopia: 18,517 kilometers.

Hassan has confidence in the race, despite the fierce last six months. “I spent five months in Ethiopia without my coach,” she said at the press conference on Thursday. “Because of the coronavirus, I took a break. For three months we were scared.”

“We couldn’t even go outside, it was very difficult. I didn’t train at all then either. For an athlete like me, lung capacity is important. So I was careful and tried to stay home as much as possible.”


This season, partly because of the coronavirus outbreak, Hassan only came into action twice. During the Diamond League games in Monaco she had to give up at the 5,000 meters in mid-August.

“In Monaco things didn’t go well yet,” said Hassan, who was reunited with her American coach Tim Rowberry after Monaco. “This time I’m better prepared and in better shape. I think I can run a better time.”

Rooster has a hard time estimating what the chances are for Hassan. “She’s never done it before, but Hassan is, of course, professional. Last year, after the 10,000 meters, she said it’s hard to stay focused.”

According to Haan, focus is the most important aspect when running a world endurance record on the track. “That is really the challenge, because all those laps are mentally difficult. I’m guessing that Hassan will agree with Kosgei to do the leading position alternately”

Last year Hassan won the 5,000 meter in Brussels with conviction, after which she became world champion in the 1,500 and 10,000 meter races a few weeks later. Since last year she is also the world record holder on the mile.

Fast shoes

In addition, Hassan holds the European record (1.05,15) in the half marathon. “If you convert that time to the track, it should succeed”, said Haan. “She’ll have to deal with Kosgei, because she was faster than Hassan on the half marathon.”

Haan: “In addition, all top athletes wear super fast shoes nowadays. Hassan is definitely going to give it a try: running a world record in athletics doesn’t happen very often”