This 71-year-old has broken the marathon world record for his age category

·2-min read
Photo credit: Twitter @JoggerJo
Photo credit: Twitter @JoggerJo

Jo Schoonbroodt, 71, set a marathon world record for the 70+ age category at Belgium’s Maasmarathon of Visé on Sunday.

Schoonbroodt, from Maastricht in the Netherlands, crossed the finish line in a blisteringly quick 2:54:19. He beat the previous record, held by American Gene Dykes, by four seconds.

It’s not Schoonbroodt’s first sub-three marathon. In fact, it’s his 76th. He’s come close to the record on several occasions. During Vise’s Maasmarathon last year, he ran a European record of 2.56.37 and, later in the year, clocked 2.55.20 at the NN Marathon Rotterdam.

On Sunday, Schoonbroodt executed his race to perfection, clocking a speedy 1.26.18 for the first loop of the two-loop course. Speaking to RW after the race he said:

‘Luckily we had a large group of half marathoners in the first loop who could protect me from the fresh northeasterly wind. That first lap went in 1.26.18 and with this I ran unexpectedly faster than the crossing in Rotterdam a month ago and also faster than the schedule for the world best time. In the second loop I was joined by my running mate Frank Driessen who helped me in the difficult sections against the wind.'

Ten kilometres from the finish, Schoonbroodt was also joined, ­by bike, by his friend Raoul Spronken. ‘Raoul had a list of kilometers for the world record with him,’ he said, ‘something I had missed in previous marathons. If you run a fast marathon, you are not so fresh at the end to look at it yourself.'

'With 10 kilometers to go I felt my legs getting heavier. However, Raoul had a special trick to keep me on track. He picked up his phone and put on some Eddy Wally music. Music that I still want to sing aloud. On his hit ‘Chérie, Chérie’, I overtook one runner after another. I flew to the finish, but the margin with Gene Dykes' record kept getting smaller and smaller.'

Despite suffering from a bout of cramp in the final 500m, Schoonbroodt, who was donning blue shorts and a yellow vest in support of Ukraine, pushed through the pain to take the record. 'That was a bit of a shock,’ he said, ‘but I now know how far I can use my body to push the edge in a marathon.’

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