Attempting to break long-distance running records used to be an underground endeavour, until the virus-stricken summer of 2020 came along. Only a few, such as the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District, had ever broken into mainstream consciousness. But an absence of running races thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in an unprecedented rise in the popularity of attempts at breaking these records.
‘The emotional pain of failing just felt like it was going to be a bit worse than the physical pain of carrying on … ’
In Broken, Ally Beaven takes an entertaining look at just why 2020 was so unusual for long-distance running. With his interest in Fastest Known Times (FKTs) piqued, Beaven immerses himself in the scene. His summer becomes one of spending hours in the hills feeding, cajoling and generally trying to keep safe the runners he is supporting, as well as following the dots of live trackers in the middle of the night and endlessly refreshing his Twitter feed as records tumble around the country.
Through the stories of John Kelly’s epic Grand Round, Beth Pascall’s record-shattering Bob Graham Round, Donnie Campbell’s mind-bending new mark for bagging all 282 Munros, Jo Meek’s new overall record for the Nigel Jenkins Dartmoor Round and many others, Beaven brings us an inside look at the incredible FKT machine.
Broken is the story of the summer of 2020, a historic time for running in the UK.