Meet Aleksandr Sorokin, Arguably The World’s Best Ultrarunner….Ever

Runners and fans of running who stay abreast with what’s going on in the ultramarathon scene have likely heard of ultrarunner Aleksandr Sorokin.

Aleksandr Sorokin has had an impressive ultrarunning career, particularly in the past couple of years, and seems to show no signs of slowing down.

We had the opportunity to speak with Aleksandr Sorokin and catch up on his ultramarathon goals, career thus far, and thoughts about ultrarunning.

In this article, we will share our Aleksandr Sorokin interview and provide some additional background about this incredible ultrarunner.

We will cover the following: 

  • Who Is Aleksandr Sorokin?
  • Why Did Aleksandr Sorokin Start Running?
  • Aleksandr Sorokin’s Running Career and Accomplishments
  • What’s Next for Aleksandr Sorokin?

Let’s jump in!

Aleksandr Sorokin crossing a finish line.
Photo: Saulius Čirba

Who Is Aleksandr Sorokin?

Aleksandr Sorokin, who sometimes goes by the nickname Aleksandr “Sania” Sorokin is an ultramarathon runner and endurance runner from Lithuania.

Aleksandr Sorokin was born on September 30, 1981, which means that he is soon to be 42 years old.

As of May 2023, Sorokin holds a total of seven world records on the track and road, including the following:

100 km (road)6:05:35Vilnius, LithuaniaWorld’s Fastest Run14-May-23WA World record
100 miles (track)11:14:56Ashford, United KingdomCenturion Running Track 100 Mile24-Apr-21World record
100 miles (road)10:51:39Tel Aviv, IsraelSpartanion Race6-Jan-22IAU World record
6-hour run 98.496 kmAshford, United KingdomCenturion Running Track 100 Mile24-Apr-21IAU World record
12-hour run (track)170.309 kmAshford, United KingdomCenturion Running Track 100 Mile24-Apr-21World record
12-hour run (road)177.410 kmTel Aviv, IsraelSpartanion Race7-Jan-22IAU World record
24-hour run (road)319.614 kmVerona, ItalyIAU European 24-Hour Championships18-Sep-22IAU World record

Despite accruing many running world records and accolades to date, Aleksandr Sorokin hasn’t been running very long.

Why Did Aleksandr Sorokin Start Running?

Prior to becoming a runner, Aleksandr Sorokin kayaked and canoed for Lithuania teams.

However, he incurred a shoulder injury from paddle sports at age 25, which caused him to retire from these teams.

He ended up putting on quite a bit of weight due to his inactivity, which actually spurred him to finally start running in 2013.

Aleksandr Sorokin says that he was primarily motivated to pick up running in order to lose weight, noting that before he started running, he weighed about 100 kg (220 pounds).  

“In 2013, I began to run to lose weight because it is the easiest way to get fit,” he told us.

While many new runners begin with the 5k and then gradually build up to a 10k or half marathon, Sorokin says that his first competition was actually a half marathon. 

He continued with his aggressive trajectory towards long-distance racing with his second competition, venturing into the world of ultramarathon races with his first 100 km race.

“I was 32 years old at the time,” recounted Sorokin. “After this first 100 km race, I really fell in love with the sport because even though there is pain and suffering after you are finished, you feel like you are flying because you have done such a good job and accomplished something so big.”

Aleksandr Sorokin in front of his race numbers and medals.
Photo: Saulius Čirba

Aleksandr Sorokin’s Running Career and Accomplishments

After running his first 100 km race in 2013, Aleksandr Sorokin quickly saw that he displayed an exceptional talent for endurance running races.

In the 2015 running season, Sorokin set the national records for Lithuania in the 100 km (6:50:34) and 24 hours (242.189 km) at the respective World Championships for these events.

He continued training for ultra-distance events and collecting various victories and accolades along the way.

For example, in 2017, Sorokin not only won the prestigious Spartathlon race in Greece but also covered the distance in the third-fastest time in all 35 runnings of the event.

The Spartathlon is touted to be one of the most challenging ultra-distance events in the world, spanning 246 km or almost 154 miles along the rugged mountainsides of Greece.

The route takes runners through the legendary course that Pheidippides is said to have run in 490 BC when calling upon assistance from the Spartan Army to help the Athenians fend off the Persian attack.

Aleksandr Sorokin had his first major breakthrough performance at the 2019 IAU 24-Hour World Championship held in Albi, France, where he broke the previous championship ultra distance record with a new distance of 278.972 kilometers.

Here, his career as a world record-setting ultra runner really took off.

Aleksandr Sorokin running.
Photo: Saulius Čirba

At the Centurion Running Track 100 Mile in England on April 24, 2021, Sorokin set both the 100-mile and the 12-hour world records along with other official ratifiable splits en route, including the 50 km record, 50-mile record, 100 km record, 6-hour running world record, and 12-hour running world record.

Talk about a record-setting performance!

During the 100-mile race, Aleksandr Sorokin ran an average pace of 6:48 minutes per mile or 4:14 minutes per kilometer.

This resulted in a 100-mile world record (160.934 kilometers) time of 11:14:56 and a 12-hour world record running distance of 105.825 miles (170.309 km). 

Just a few months later, Aleksandr Sorokin set another world record on August 29, 2021, in Pabianice, Poland.

There, he took down Yiannis Kouros’s 24-hour world record of 303.3 km, which was set back in 1997 and had been described as “unbreakable.” 

Aleksandr Sorokin not only broke the “unbreakable” 24-hour ultra world record, but he smashed it by over 6 km, covering 309.4 km by maintaining an average overall pace of 4:39 per kilometer for a full 24-hour run. 

After a stellar record-setting year in 2021, Aleksandr Sorokin had an even better performance in 2022.

Just days into the new year, on January 6, 2022, then 40-year-old and newly Masters runner Aleksandr Sorokin broke his own two previous world records in the 100-mile distance and 12-hour ultra-marathon events at the Spartanion race in Tel Aviv.

Aleksandr Sorokin
Photo: Saulius Čirba

He became the first runner in history to break the 11-hour barrier at the 100-mile ultra-marathon distance, finishing the 100 miles (161 km) in 10 hours, 51 minutes, and 39 seconds.

He also bested his 12-hour ultramarathon record by increasing the furthest distance run in 12 hours to 111.24 miles.

A few months later, on April 23, 2022, Sorokin ran 6:05:41 at the Centurion Running Track 100 Mile, setting a new world record for the 100 km ultramarathon distance.

At the IAU European 24-Hour Championships in Verona, Italy on September 18, 2022 Sorokin shattered his own 24-hour ultra running record by more than 10 kilometers, running 319.614 kilometers, which is only 1.5 miles shy of a full 200 miles in 24 hours.

This means that he ran an average pace of 4:30/km (7:15/mile) for 24 hours—truly remarkable.

This year has been no exception to Sorokin’s record-break streak at ultramarathon races.

Despite now being 41 years old, which is a bit past the prime of most distance runners, Sorokin broke his own 100 km world record on Sunday, May 14, 2023, in his hometown of Vilnius, Lithuania.

He ran the 100km race (62.14 miles) in six hours, five minutes, and 35 seconds (6:05:35), which works out to an average of 3:39 per kilometer or about 5:53 per mile. 

Aleksandr Sorokin posing with another man.
Photo: Saulius Čirba

What’s Next for Aleksandr Sorokin?

Sorokin says the next goal is to focus on 24-hour ultramarathon races because he thinks he has not yet reached his full potential and has room to improve his performance.

“I think my specialty is the 24 hour run, so I think this is my best performance area. I have done over 319 miles in 24 hours,” he shared.

“I have not touched my full limits, and I think I can run more kilometers in 24 hours, so I want to try and improve my 24-hour ultramarathon performance.

I think I will race at the world championship in Taipei in December, or perhaps a different 24-hour ultra-marathon race in order to test my potential and run further.”

How does he train for these long ultras?

“My training when preparing for a big competition or race involves running about 200 to 300 km per week. Mostly I do 40 to 50 km in the morning and 10 to 15 km in the evening. Sometimes I run fast sessions such as 10 x 1,000 meters,” explains Sorokin.

Aleksandr Sorokin at a finish line.
Photo: Saulius Čirba

What about staying injury free?

“I don’t necessarily have strategies to not get injured because sometimes I get injured.

You need to allow the body time to physically and mentally adapt [to the stresses of training]. Little by little, increase your mileage to prevent injuries,” suggests Sorokin.

“I have sometimes had injuries, but it’s part of the sport; everyone gets injuries, so I can’t escape them completely.”

What is the hardest part about racing ultras?

“I think the biggest challenge with racing is trying to be better and better,” says Sorokin. “I need to prepare perfectly because my opponents look at me, and the world looks at me to be better and better, so I want to push myself to be my best.”

What does Aleksandr Sorokin like most about running ultras?

“We can do more than we think we can do, so we need to push our limits higher and higher,” believes Sorokin. “I think there are no limits for the human body.”

Clearly, he is showing this in his own running, and we can’t wait to see what he does next!

You can follow Aleksandr Sorokin in his quest to break more ultramarathon records on his Instagram account here.

Meet Aleksandr Sorokin, Arguably The World's Best Ultrarunner....Ever 1
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Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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