On this second attempt Newton won by 52 minutes, finishing in 6:56:07 and beating the old record by 2 hours and 3 minutes. His achievement was so unexpected that it was only by chance that two race officials reached the finish in time to record his finishing time on the nearest clockthe post office clock about 600 m away.
That single performance heralded the beginning of the modem training approach to distance running, which advocated year-round training of 2 or more hours per day for peak performance. Although by the 1940s Newton had described the essence of his training methods, it was really only the arrival of athletes like Zatopek and Peters (see post 8) in the 1950s and the training schools of Cerutty and Lydiard in the 1950s and 1960s that began to propagate widely the ideas Newton had discovered in the 1920s in Natal.
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After his decisive victory in the 1923 Comrades Marathon, Newton decided to attempt the world 50-mile running record of 6:13:58, set by the Englishman Lloyd in 1913. A 50-mile out-and-back course on the Comrades route, beginning in Pietermaritzburg and therefore including Polly Shorts (see Exercises 5.1) on the return journey, was measured out. Despite the uneven, dusty, and untarred road, Newton ran the distance in 5:53:05, thereby lowering the record by 20 minutes, a feat described as “impossible*’ by incredulous English road running officials.
In 1924, Newton again won the Comrades Marathon, this time by the large margin of 75 minutes, finishing in 6:58:22. To prove the credibility of his “impossible” 50-mile time, he traveled to England where he set a new London-to-Brighton record of 5:53:43, an improvement of 65 minutes on the old record (see Exercises 5.2). En route, he set world records at 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 miles. He also passed the 42-km standard marathon mark with a time that was 9 minutes faster than that of the first English finisher in the 1924 Olympic Games. The performance ensured that when the London-to-Brighton race was revived in 1951, the magnificent winner’s trophy would bear Newton’s name.
Newton’s success continued with wins in the 1925 and 1927 Comrades Marathons and world records at 30, 40, 50, 60, and 100 miles. His 60-mile time of 7:33:55 and his 100-mile time of 14:43:00 represented improvements of 50 and 105 minutes on the respective former records.
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