Camille Herron sets several world records at the Jackpot 100

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With 14 American and 10 world records, Camille Herron, 40, is considered one of the best ultramarathoners of all time. But it took her decades to fully pursue what she says she was put on earth to do.

“I thought I would work in research for the rest of my life. I had no idea I would find out in my mid-30s that I was supposed to run ultras,” said Herron, who recently broke his own 100-mile world record.

The Masters runner won the Jackpot 100 in Nevada and broke her previous best set in 2017. Herron only stopped once during the race – for 15 seconds to pull a non-alcoholic beer – before finishing in 12:41:11, which equates to a blistering 7:37 per mile.

Her performance not only clinched the world record, but she also said she also set 10 additional preliminary world and US records in the process. Because records are distinguished by distance, time, and age, it is possible, as in Herron’s case, that one race could result in many records.

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Since his first 100k in 2015, Herron has made a habit of breaking ultramarathon records. After that race, the race director called her and told her she had broken Ann Trason’s record. “I had to google Ann Trason and realized she had all these US and world records. So that’s where the seed was planted in my head. This ‘Oh wow, maybe I should go get those records,’” Herron said.

It’s been her quest ever since, and she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

“I just turned 40 in December and realized there were all these master records as well,” says Herron, who thinks the next 10 to 20 years will be his best yet. She has created a spreadsheet to track all the records to be won and plans to break them all.

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His mission may seem extreme. But Herron says she is simply living what she was born to do. Growing up in Norman, Oklahoma, Herron heard military stories from his grandfather, who was a sniper in the Marines and fought in World War II.

“As a child, we entered my grandparents’ house and its [two] Purple Hearts was right there on the entry wall,” says Herron, who also remembers seeing his grandfather’s battle scars. “They say I look the most like my grandfather; I even look like my grandfather. I kind of had his mind, and I had this mentality that I want to be like my grandfather.

It wasn’t just military honors she revered. His grandfather and father both played college basketball at Oklahoma State University for three-time Olympic team coach Henry Iba.

Herron’s father told stories of practicing without water for up to six hours. When Herron was only 7, she took it upon herself to do the same. “I was definitely an amazing kid athletically and mentally and took things to the extreme on my own,” says Herron, who recalls passing out from her periods of water deprivation. .

Although this foundation for his successful ultramarathon career was evident at a young age, it took several disastrous life events to solidify his destiny.

In 1999, when she was in junior high school, her family lost their home to a tornado. It was after this crushing loss that Herron said she turned to distance running.

“When it happened, it made me reflect on my life and celebrate. I’m grateful for my life, I have to celebrate that. I started running long on Sundays,” Herron says.

She credits those long Sunday runs, often the day after Saturday runs in high school, for propelling her to the next level. Herron was a three-time All-State cross country recipient and a three-time state track and field champion. Herron earned athletic and academic scholarships to attend the University of Tulsa. There, she adopted one of her signature styles: running with her hair down.

“It was my freshman year in college, and I did it randomly. I realized, woo, I feel liberated,” says Herron, who didn’t pull her hair back during the a race since. “When I’m running and it’s flying free, I just don’t care.”

But as a college athlete, she was riddled with injuries and forced to quit competing, so she became a “recreational runner.”

In 2004, Herron went running with her husband Conor Holt, who was a six-time All-American college runner. Although they started out together, Herron only returned after him. Holt probed, asking about his training and realized that Herron was running 70 miles a week. He encouraged her to add workouts and let him train her, which he still does to this day.

The approach worked, and Herron competed in road races during his fifth year of college and marathons for 10 years. With a personal best of 2:37:14, Herron has qualified for the Olympic marathon trials three times, won more than 20 marathons and even holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon in a super suit. hero – she dressed up as Spiderwoman.

In 2015, everyone was pushing her to get into trail running, so she swapped the roads for the trails.

“When I tried ultrarunning it was extremely difficult and I loved it. It was grueling type A fun. But I had the personality for it. I’m not the kind of person to I naturally overcame the challenges and kept going,” says Herron, who lost eight toenails in his first 100k.

Although this change was successful, including many world championship titles, the universe had different plans. During a muddy trail run in the spring of 2017, she tore her medial collateral ligament (MCL).

“It was like my leg was hanging off. I knew I had done something really, really wrong. But I was so stubborn. I hobbled for 11 miles to the finish line,” she says. Although she could barely stand on her leg, Herron finished fourth.

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Herron has recovered enough to run (and win) the Comrades Marathon, just 10 weeks after his injury. The victory prompted Herron to recommit to his pursuit of the ultramarathon record. “I felt like it was a sign from above,” she says.

But it was difficult for Herron to fully pursue his ambitious goals while juggling his research career. A car accident that turned his life upside down changed the course of his life. “I was trapped upside down and couldn’t breathe,” Herron says. “I realized I could die. I could choke. It was another spiritual moment.

Engage fully

After the accident, Herron took a break from work to recuperate. She eventually made the decision to quit working and become a full-time runner.

“I don’t think I could have done it if the car accident hadn’t happened. I knew I had that body and that talent and that I could finally feel at peace knowing I’m doing the right thing,” Herron says.

And now that she’s made her master runner debut, she’s looking to be more in tune with her body: “I try to focus on those little things that are the glue that holds my body together.”

Ten years ago, Herron could go for a long run every Sunday. But over the years, she ditched long weekly runs in favor of one or two a month, peaking at 18 to 22 miles. His training is still high volume, with 12-13 runs per week and most days including two runs, but lower intensity. “I had to evolve with age. I only do one speed session a week, and if I feel tired, I give myself more recovery and rest,” says Herron.

This approach is the fruit of his own research: while at Oregon State University’s graduate school, Herron wrote his thesis on how to improve bone recovery and optimize mechanical stress for bone health. bone. She developed her training philosophy based on her understanding of both. Herron discovered that the bones of bipedal animals, like humans and turkeys, grow with short, frequent periods of stress instead of long, single occurrences.

“I’ve thought about everything I do,” Herron says. “I can run every day thinking I’m doing what I’m supposed to do today, and I’m listening to my body and working with my body.”

After his Jackpot 100 win, Herron is giving his body exactly what it needs right now: two weeks of rest and plenty of tacos. Next, she will focus on the Western States 100-mile endurance race in June.

“I’m going to do everything in my power to get to the finish line healthy. Even if they have to wrap me in bubble wrap,” Herron says. As she prepares for the Western States, she is well on her way to achieving her ultimate goal of running 100,000 miles.

“I’m excited. I feel like I can retire now,” she jokes. She’s not done yet. Not while there are still unverified records in her spreadsheet.

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