21-Apr-1985 – London Marathon – 2:21:06 – Nike Mariah
Date of birth: 21-Mar-1956
World Record duration: 12 years, 11 months, 29 days
Coming into the 1985 London Marathon, Ingrid Kristiansen felt she had something to prove. The 1984 Olympics was the first to feature the women’s marathon. The starting line included some of the best athletes ever to run the event. Among them was Grete Waitz, fellow Norwegian and one of Kristiansen’s most respected competitors. She would take her lead as the race progressed, waiting for Waitz to respond to the early pace of Joan Benoit. She waited too long, and by the finish line she was off the podium.
Kristiansen wanted nothing more than to set the world record. Such was her focus that she kept looking at her watch throughout the race, making sure she was on track. After powering through the first ten kilometres, Kristiansen got to the halfway point slower than sub 2:20 pace but still on track for the world record. She picked up the pace, and until the final four miles she was on track to go below 2:20. Though she was tiring, she knew she was on track to be the fastest ever over the marathon distance.
When she crossed the line, it was the new world record in a time of 2:21:06. Incredibly, her benchmark would stand unbeaten until 1998, but it was not enough for the Norwegian. Later that year she set the world record for the 10,000 metre distance, along with the 5,000 metres set the year before. Kristiansen is still the only woman to have held all three world records simultaneously.
She would continue trying to better her marathon time, desperate to break the 2:20 barrier which she said remained her primary motivation in the marathons she ran. She came agonisingly close at the 1989 London Marathon, starting strongly and crossing the halfway point in 1:09. She had felt tired from the start, and fatigue caught up with her before the finish. She still won by many minutes, but her time from 1985 still stood. Kristiansen would win her last marathon at the 1989 New York Marathon, retiring in 1993 as one of the legends of distance running.
We have several pictures of Kristiansen that show her wearing distinctive off-white Nike racing flats. If we compare them to pictures from her first world record performance in 1984, we can see the overlays match as well, which marks her shoes out as the Mariah racing flat.
You can read more about them here , but by the time Kristiansen laced them up the Mariah had been already been available for many years since its debut in 1980. Nonetheless, it was light and featured full-length air cushioning. You can also read about the shoe Nike gave her to compete in at the Chicago Marathon later that year, the uniquely eccentric and ultra-lightweight Nike Sock Racer.