Barefoot sprinter races on frozen lake, sets unofficial world record

Nathan Howes
·4 min read
Barefoot sprinter races on frozen lake, sets unofficial world record
Barefoot sprinter races on frozen lake, sets unofficial world record

While many are hesitant to leave the house in the winter, even with extra layers of clothing on, Karim El Hayani has no problem venturing out in the cold --with nothing on his feet.

The runner, originally hailing from Spain, took to a frozen lake in Quebec recently, while barefoot, establishing a new world record for fastest time in a half marathon on snow or ice. The 21.1-kilometre-event took place on Lake Beauport, northwest of Quebec City, in -15°C temperatures on March 3.

SEE ALSO: How to survive a fall through the ice this winter

El Hayani's time of 1:37:54 in the half-marathon, jaunting across the icy lake, broke the time listed on the Guinness World Records site. He is still awaiting confirmation from Guinness.

After finishing the race and learning of the potential new record, El Hayani was "very happy" because he was surrounded by many supporters and it was a "way to thank everyone for their help," he told The Weather Network in an email that was translated to English.

Karim El Hayani/Lake Beauport, Que.
Karim El Hayani/Lake Beauport, Que.

Karim El Hayani broke a world record for quickest time Photo: Karim El Hayani.

"I felt a lot of emotions at the same time because it is a unique experience, but at the same time, I felt in peace. It is actually difficult to describe with words," said El Hayani.

AWAITING VERIFICATION

The current official record belongs to Wim Hof, with a time of 2:16:34 that was established in January 2007.

El Hayani's record isn't the only one that still needs to be confirmed, however. According to Canadian Running, another unofficial record for barefoot-running on snow or ice in a half-marathon was set earlier this year by Norwegian Jonas Felde Savaldrud, who recorded a time of 1:44:58. But it still falls short of El Hayani's reported time once both are verified.

Following the half-marathon, El Hayani's feet "felt better than I thought," he said, noting he already had two blisters on them from a 2.5-hour training run he took part in a week prior to the event.

Karim El Hayani feet
Karim El Hayani feet

El Hayani's feet after running a half-marathon barefoot on March 3, 2021. Photo: Karim El Hayani.

"Besides that my feet were okay. I felt very good because my feet didn't hurt, and to be able to finish that challenge without pain it's just an incredible sensation," the 27-year-old said.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted El Hayani to attempt to break the record this year, which motivated him to be active and to "test my limits has a minimalist athlete," he stated.

BAREFOOT RUNNING NOTHING NEW

Running barefoot is not unusual for El Hayani, who told CBC News he has spent most of his life doing so in shorts and in the heat, but the snow and ice are still relatively new for him, he said.

"It's very different, especially for me, who is not used to the cold," he said.

How El Hayani was able to pull off the feat was by practising his technique, to allow his feet to move freely without lingering on the lake. He believed his feet would be more worse for wear than they actually were after the run, he said.

Karim El Hayani barefoot
Karim El Hayani barefoot

Karim El Hayani's time of 1:40:49 in the half-marathon, jaunting across the icy lake, broke the time listed on the Guinness World Records site by almost five minutes. Photo: Karim El Hayani.

"I think doing it quickly and keeping my body warm helped me a lot," said El Hayani.

The barefoot sprinter grew up in Spain, then spent some time in Arizona before relocating to Bromont in the Eastern Townships, under 100 km southwest of Montreal, just a few years ago.

When he began trekking on ice, he managed to last 10 minutes. The eager runner said the hardest part was finding a safe rhythm on the slippery surface.

The next challenge for El Hayani is to run 250+ kilometres barefoot in the desert in the Marathon des Sables in Morocco, to held in October. His goal is to finish top 10 with the "best athletes," he noted in the email to The Weather Network.

With files from Spencer Van Dyk/CBC News.

Thumbnail courtesy of Karim El Hayani.