It was in 2021 when Wings for Life World Run Ambassador Flo Neuschwander broke the indoor record for 100 km – on a treadmill!
Anyone who has ever watched the Wings for Life World Run knows that Flo is an amazing runner. (With an amazing moustache!) So maybe it was no surprise that, only 11 months after breaking the 50km indoor running world record, Flo has gone one better. The German ultrarunning legend set the unofficial 100km indoor running world record in a time of 6h 26m 14s – almost 13 minutes faster than the previous mark.
It happened on Saturday, January 30, 2021 inside a local gym in Bavaria. From Flo’s first step, fans could be there from their living rooms via a live stream. The challenge also ran on the virtual training platform Zwift, where users could run and cycle alongside him and send digital greetings – an opportunity that fellow top athletes didn't want to miss.
Two-time Ironman World Champion Patrick Lange cycled a few kilometers with Flo, while another Ironman winner, Sebastian Kienle, as well as record-setting track star Koko Klosterhalfen, kept him motivated with video messages.
"If I'd run 100km on the treadmill alone, with no interaction, I’d think too much," Flo shares. "You can't do that: when it gets difficult, there's no one to push you."
The opposite was the case on this mega run. Over 5,000 people watched and ran or cycled with Flo. "The digital support was extremely important," he explained. "That's the be-all and end-all for such a long run."
100km in three stages: easy, tough, cool
The first 50km were "easy," apparently. "It got interesting from 60km onwards. From then on it was new territory," Flo acknowledges. "I've never run that far on the treadmill, especially not at that speed."
Up to the 70km mark, he felt "amazingly good," but then, he says, "From 70 to 85km it was hard. I had to dig really deep, especially mentally. It was tough."
The most astonishing thing about the effort is that the last kilometer, with a time of 3m 20s, was Flo's fastest of the entire 100km! "The last kilometer clearly goes to the community. It was great!" he says.
"Normal pace" = a world record
Across the run, Flo averaged 3m 52s per kilometer.
"Seen over the entire distance, the pace seems brutal, of course," he admits. But for this ultrarunner, it’s a normal pace. He explains, "The trick was to keep up this pace for so long. The community pushed me to the max – thanks for that."
Because official observers from Guinness World Records couldn't be on site due to strict hygiene requirements, the record goes into the annals of Flo's career as "unofficial," something he's perfectly content with, saying, "A world record is always great, even if it's unofficial."
Next stop: Wings for Life World Run
Flo’s next sporting goal is running for those who can’t.
"I'm ready for the next long run, which will be running with the App at the Wings for Life World Run on May 7!" he says. "Everyone, sign up for my Run with the Flow team – that would be mega. I'm looking forward to seeing you!"
Whether you run as part of a team or on your own, the App will connect you with participants all around the world as you start together at 11am UTC. And most important of all, 100% of your entry fee will go to research to find a cure for spinal cord injury.
Join Flo, and the entire Wings for Life World Run community, here.