In our latest celebration of the great indoors, we bring you seven of the more unusual indoor world bests.
1. Men’s 600m
The indoor master of the lactic-inducing 600m is bespectacled German Nico Motchebon (main image), who 18 years ago thundered around three laps of the track at the Glaspalast in Sindelfingen in 1:15.12.
Quality athletes such as Olympic 400m silver medallist Luguelin Santos, 2011 400m hurdles world champion Dai Greene and quarter-mile specialists Kevin and Jonathan Borlee have all tried to lower the mark, but ultimately failed, making Motchebon’s record one to respect. The former modern pentathlete proved something of an indoor specialist, taking two world indoor 800m bronze medals in 1993 and '99. His best outdoor performance came when he finished fifth at the 1996 Olympic final in a PB 1:43.91
After surviving for nearly two decades, Motchebon’s record was finally broken in January 2016 by an athlete few will have heard of. Emmanuel Korir, a student at the University of Texas at El Paso, took 0.15 off Motchebon’s time, running 1:14.97 at the Cherry & Silver Collegiate Invitational in Albuquerque. Remarkably, it came just a week after the 21-year-old Kenyan had run his first ever indoor race, in which he clocked 1:46.50 for the 800m.
That mark survived for barely two weeks. Running at the Penn State National Open, Casimir Loxsom, who already held the American record in the event, stopped the clock at 1:14.91 to become the fastest man ever over three laps of an indoor track. Remarkably, second place finisher Isaiah Harris also dipped blow Korir’s old record, finishing second in 1:14.96.
2. Men’s 150m
In one of the most hyped showdowns of the 1990s, Canada’s Donovan Bailey defeated Michael Johnson to claim the title of “the world’s fastest man” in front of 30,000 spectators at Toronto’s stunning SkyDome (now known as the Rogers Centre).
Debate had raged for some time about the rightful holder of accolade after the US media anointed Johnson, the Olympic 200m and 400m champion at Atlanta 1996, with the crown. However Bailey, who was the Olympic 100m champion, felt he was the owner of the unofficial title.
In a made-for-TV spectacle, the 150m head-to-head turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. From the gun Bailey – running on Johnson’s inside – dominated before Johnson pulled up lame with a damaged quadriceps with 40m remaining. Bailey earned a reputed $1.5m for his efforts, and the 14.99 he ran that day still stands as an indoor best.
The US marathoner and ultra-marathoner Michael Wardian covered a dizzying 211 laps of Arlington’s Thomas Jefferson Center to break the 82-year-old world indoor marathon mark with a time of 2:27:21.
Wardian, who also has broken world records for completing a marathon pushing a baby stroller and dressed as a super hero (though not at the same time), took more than seven minutes from the previous indoor marathon world record set in Boston in 1928.
However Wardian’s record did not survive as long as that. In April 2016, Malcolm Richards, 33, ran 2:21:56 at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York. Richards, who hails from San Francisco, finished 18th at the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials and owns an outdoor personal best of 2:15:10.
On the same day, 28-year-old Allie Kieffer ran 2:44:44 to break the women’s record by over nine minutes. The New York native was the sole female entrant into the race, which required athletes to run 221 laps of the Armory’s banked 200m track.
4. Weight throw
This peculiar discipline is a rare sight anywhere but on the US collegiate scene – it can best be described as hammer’s indoor cousin. The men’s world record of 25.86m was set in 1995 by Lance Deal, the 1996 Olympic hammer silver medallist and US hammer record holder.
Few will know much about the women’s world record holder Brittany Riley, who hurled the 20lb implement a distance of 25.56m to take the 2007 NCAA title in the discipline. She went on to represent the US in the hammer at the 2007 world champs, but it is her indoor record that goes down as her greatest achievement.
5. Women’s discus
The discus not an event you commonly associate with indoors athletics, but at the 2015 ISTAF meeting in Berlin the reconfigured hall at the O2 World Arena witnessed no less than three world records.
The global-busting marks began in round two when German Nadine Muller, who would go on to win bronze at last year's outdoor world champs, added exactly one metre on the previous record held by Sanna Kamarainen of Finland with a 61.67m effort. Muller improved to 62.00m with her next effort, only for her compatriot Shanice Craft to muscle ahead moments later with a 62.07m.
The men’s world indoor discus record of 69.51m belongs to 2008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia, who unleashed his mighty effort in Vaxjo, Sweden in 2009.
6. Men’s 400m hurdles
As a two-time Olympic and two-time world 400m hurdles champion, Felix Sanchez is widely recognised as a world-class athlete. But not many know he is also a world indoor record holder for the distance. In fact, he has set three world indoor 400m hurdles records for an event rarely run on the boards.
The athlete from the Dominican Republic set his first global mark of 49.73 at Val-de-Reuil in 2010, two years later lowering it to 49.25 in Mondeville and then in Val-de-Reuil in 48.78. The women’s world record mark for the distance of 56.41 was set in 2011 at Val-de-Reuil (clearly the spiritual home of the indoor 400m hurdles) by 2008 Olympic silver medallist Sheena Tosta of the US.
7. Men’s distance medley relay
A blistering opening leg by two-time world championships 1500m medallist Matt Centrowitz paved the way for the USA to slice more than six seconds from the previous world record mark at the Armory Invitational last year.
For those unfamiliar with the event, it sees teams of four complete in successive legs of 1200m, 400m, 800m and 1600m. Centrowitz stopped the clock in an impressive 2:49.47 for his three lap effort, followed by Mike Berry (46.40), Erik Sowinski (1:47.60) and Patrick Casey (3:56.48) for a world record of 9:19:93. The former mark of 9:25.97 had been posted by the University of Texas in 2008.
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This article has been updated to include improvements in records.