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New Age Group Marathon World Record Set by 70 Year-Old

Gene Dykes marathon age group world record

Photo courtesy of Mark Grubb

Veteran runner Gene Dykes from Pennsylvania, USA has set a new world record in the 70-74 age group for the marathon, a record that has stood since 2004 and was thought to be unbreakable. 

Dykes ran the 26.2 miles in a time of 2:54:23 with an average pace of 6:39 per mile, breaking the previous record of 2:54:48 which was set by Canadian runner Ed Whitlock.

He spoke to Runner's World immediately after he finished the race in Jacksonville, Florida. “My first thought was that this really frees up my schedule for next year,” he said. He can now sign up for the races he enjoys which are ultra-marathons and hard marathons on courses that aren’t record-eligible, instead of trying to beat the world record.

One of Dykes' 'super powers' is that he can recover incredibly quickly from races, meaning he can take part in several tough challenges in quick succession. Just two months ago in October he ran the Toronto Marathon in a searing time of 2:55:17. Then, just two weeks ago, he ran the Vista Verde Skyline 50k (31-mile) ultra marathon and then the California International Marathon the very next day. 

“I’ve often said that my ability to recover is my super power,” he told Runner's World. He also said that he’s been tested twice for banned substances; once in competition after a masters track meet and once, about 18 months ago, testers showed up unannounced to his home.

In the first half of his record-breaking marathon, Dykes said he felt strong and was already ahead of the world record pace. However, towards the final stretch of the race, he started suffering cramps in his calf muscles. But knowing he had the world record in his grasp, he crossed the line with a smile on his face. It wasn’t because he ran faster than anyone else his age in history, but because he had set a goal and worked at it. The satisfaction, he said, was being “able to do what I set out to do.”


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