Five Coolest Running Achievements in History

In Events, People / Groups, Running

Post updated June 2021

In keeping with the weather (which, in the UK, where we’re writing from, is nearly as cool as these running achievements), we’ve been looking around the internet to bring you what we think are the coolest running achievements of all time.

It hasn’t been easy to choose. And you might disagree that these are the 10 most deserving of a mention, but you have to admit, they’re pretty awesome, whichever way you look at it. If you’re training yourself, don’t forget to stay safe – check out our high vis and reflective running gear for ideas.

1. Pheidippides – the original marathon man

Pheidippides Statue

We’re beginning at the beginning with this Greek messenger who ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens in 490BCE to report that the Persians had lost and the Greeks were victorious. Apparently, he ran the entire 25-ish miles without pausing for breath, ran into the assembly, announced ‘we won!’ and then died on the spot. Hopefully he is resting easy in the knowledge that his effort has been commemorated in the creation of the marathon, the most famous of all running events.

2. Paavo Nurmi, the Flying Finn

Paavo Nurmi

He was born into a working family, left school at the age of 12 to provide for his family and ended up one of the richest men in Finland. You might not have heard of him, but the Flying Finn was a man to be reckoned with. He dominated distance running for much of the 1920s setting 22 world records and was undefeated in all races of 800m and above for 121 races. He has, with 12 Olympic medals (9 of them gold), the most medals for running of any Olympian in history.

3. Flo-Jo, the world’s fastest ever woman sprinter

Florence Joyner

Florence Joyner (Flo-Jo), the super-sprinter from the US who took the 1988 Olympics in Seoul by storm. She set new world records in both the 100m at 10.54 seconds and the 200m at 21.34 seconds. It is astonishing that 25 years later, her records remain unbroken. Flo received heavy criticism when she was in the public eye, being accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs. Olympics officials have since come out in her defence. Tragically, Flo died in her sleep of an epileptic seizure in 1998 aged just 38.


4. Usain Bolt, the fastest person in history

Usain Bolt

From the fastest woman to the fastest man in history and hasn’t he got the name to match. He’s the first man to hold the 100m and 200m world records simultaneously and has won six gold medals for sprinting. The highest earner in athletics history, it’s no wonder this Jamaican is often known as Lightning Bolt when you consider that he has run 100m in 9.58 seconds and 200m in 19.19 seconds. Whoosh!

5. The ultimate in endurance – Pat Farmer’s pole-to-pole run

Pat Farmer

We started with an ancient legend, so we’ll end with a modern miracle man. You have to applaud Pat Farmer’s extraordinary exploits. An all-round achiever, Pat used to sit in Australia’s parliament, holding the seat for MacArthur. Now he runs ultra-marathons throughout the world in aid of the charity; Australian Red Cross. Pat’s most amazing running achievement is the pole-to-pole run. He was allowed to use vehicles for certain parts of the journey, so his record has never been ratified, but this seems a bit unfair when you consider what he achieved. Starting at the North Pole with a 40-day trek, Pat covered 760km on the first leg of his journey. Then it was on to Canada where he started his 11,744km road run to southern Panama. From there, it was a 250km trek through the jungle to Colombia where the fourth leg of his journey began - a 9693km run through South America to Tierra Del Fuego. From there he hitched a lift (and I think we can forgive him for not running through the Antarctic sea) to Antarctica where he completed this phenomenal challenge with a 900km trek. He raised over AUS$100,000 for the Australian Red Cross.

If these stories have inspired you to take up running, or even to do a race or two for charity, check out our Essential Running Kit Edit, to ensure that you are running at your best.