Imagine running 26 miles. Now imagine running 26 miles every day for 95 consecutive days.
That's what one Vermont ultra runner did last year while the world went into lockdown, and it has earned her the female world record for the most consecutive days spent running a marathon distance — 26.2 miles.
Alyssa Clark, a 28-year-old from Burlington, said she finds "the whole thing a bit unbelievable."
"I never started the journey of running 95 marathons thinking that I would be a world record-holder," Clark said. "Everyday was a gift and kind of ending up with this, I'm still kind of shocked that it happened and I just feel very grateful for it."
Clark had been training for ultra races, which are longer than a marathon distance, and she began her marathon quest when those ultra races were canceled. At the time, her husband, who is in the Navy, was stationed in Naples, Italy, in March 2020. When the country went on lockdown, she said she had to think of a new way to challenge herself.
"And so ... March 31, I just got on a treadmill and started running," Clark said of lockdown in March of 2020.
With the lockdown only expected to last two weeks, Clark thought she would only run 14 or 15 consecutive days. And as it got extended, so did her goal.
But the hardest part was making sure that she was in a position to continue each day, she said.
"There's no take-backs on this ... If you mess one up or if you don't finish it or anything like that, then you don't get tomorrow," she added.
At around 25 days, she said she looked into what the record was.
The previous female record was set in 2015 by Alice Burch of England who ran a marathon distance for 60 consecutive days.
Knowing she was about half way to breaking the record, Clark thought, "maybe this is a possibility," and set a goal of 100 consecutive days.
In fact, she even managed to keep going during an international move from Italy to Florida. She ran a marathon at 1 a.m. during a layover on a German military base.
However, on her 96th day, Clark was unable to finish the run after experiencing chest pain. She and her husband later tested positive for Covid.
Clark said she is not looking to break another world record due to the tedious process of filing for one; it took her about a year from when she started to compile witness statements, videos and running data for the submission.
But she will soon attempt to have the fastest time at the Pinhoti Trail, which spans 335 miles between Alabama and Georgia.
"Running is my constant," Clark said. "I'm the best version of myself when I'm running."