1977 – Chantal Langlacé

Source: Personal archives of Chantal Langlacé

1-May-1977 – Spanish National Championship – 2:35:15.4 – Adidas Marathon
Date of birth: 6-Jan-1955
Nationality: French
World Record duration: 4 months, 9 days

The athlete:                
Chantal Langlacé had rapidly established herself as one of the top distance running talents. Making her marathon debut at the Neuf-Brisach Marathon in 1973 at the age of 18, she set the new French record. There were few events at the time that allowed for female competitors, Langlacé having to sneak in to several races just to compete, even dressing as a boy on occasion to avoid being spotted by officials.

The next year she would set the world record at the 1974 running of the Neuf-Brisach Marathon, 2:46:24. She was not done, and continued to set world records in other distances. Several years later the Spanish Championships would be held at the Oiartzun Marathon, which would take four laps to complete the required distance.

Langlacé was in imperious form, passing the 20 kilometre mark in 1:13:02, the crowd cheering her on. By the 35th kilometre she knew she was in track not only to beat her personal best but set the new world record. It was an incredible feat, but such was the heat of competition at the time that her time would stand for only five months before being bettered by Christa Vahlensieck. While continuing to compete in and win at the marathon distance, Langlacé also turned her attentions to ultramarathon distances. Although set on courses that were unfortunately of questionable accuracy, she set world record times in the 100 kilometre distance: 7:27:22 in 1980, then 7:26:01 in 1984.

Shockingly, she never got the opportunity to run in the first women’s marathon at the 1984 Olympics. Langlacé had run fast enough to qualify, however at the last moment French officials pulled her from the team. It was enormously painful for Langlacé, still describing it as a wound. She would continue competing in other marathons and ultramarathon events, showing just how competitive she was with wins and world records. It was in 1989 that she finally retired from professional distance running, having prised open the doors for many other women as one of the pioneers of the sport.

The shoes:                   


Finding clear photos from the day Langlacé set the new world record proved extremely difficult, but after much searching I got in touch with journalist Damien Bullot who provided the attached photo. He had used it when publishing an interview with Langlacé back in 2014 in the defunct French running magazine Joggeur. From the personal archives of Langlacé herself, the photo clearly shows she wore wore the Adidas Marathon.

They were the latest version of the racing flats that had been worn by Jacqueline Hansen to set the world record some years earlier, and before then legends such as Abebe Bikila and Mamo Wolde. The version Langlacé wore with kangaroo suede uppers were also worn by Waldemar Cierpinski. The colourway was the same that Cierpinski wore later in 1976 at the Fukuoka Marathon. While the Marathon model has some incredible pedigree, it has remained firmly within the Adidas vaults and has not been released again.