RF Monthly – May#05 -The First Ever In History ! Sub 60sec 400m with a 40lb pack and Steve Cram !


The first ever sub 60 seconds, 400 metres with a 40lb pack, in the final stride (59.48 seconds at Cumberland Track, Crewe, Friday 13th April 2012). Photograph courtesy of Des Evans.

Photo shoot with Lowe Alpine. Courtesy of Ben Barden.

Lee Riley – Former Royal Marine turned Personal Trainer, Sponsored Athlete and Motivational/ Business Speaker – Quadruple World Record Holder – The First Ever and Only Person in History to hold the complete running range from Sprinting, Middle Distance, Long Distance and Marathon World Records at Once.

Lee is raising much needed funds for the Royal British Legion (the main charity for all the armed forces). If you want to donate or help Lee with his fundraising from his challenges, please go to Lee’s just giving site http://www.justgiving.com/rileyfitness1 All donations are very much appreciated.

The Marine Machine strikes again, Lee Riley is like no other man. His commitment to his craft is second to none. He has an outstanding ability to run with a load on his back, the equivalent of near 3 stone. He leaves no stone unturned in his quest for world records in this extreme sport. This latest record was no exception, his aim to run the first ever sub 60secs over 400m. Most club runners would not be able to achieve this without a pack. It was to prove his hardest challenge yet, for athletic skill. There was months of training, sacrifices and fine tuning to achieve this. Having already broken 4 World Records, making him the first ever and only athlete in history to hold the complete running range world records from sprinting, middle distance, long distance and marathon at once. These records have been achieved in 3 areas of the country; the marathon in London (south England), the half marathon in the midlands and the other two in the north. Just adding to these achievements.

Lee’s desire to be the first person to run a sub 60sec 400m with 40lb’s took over his life. Since breaking the mile world record Lee has been training hard particularly on his sprinting, something he had not done since school. Going back in time to Lee’s last high school year at Shavington High school, Crewe, Cheshire. Lee was 16 years old in 1998, from the start of high school; Lee’s physical description was best described as a well built, chunky kid. Lee had won all the primary school 75 – 100 metre sprint events at the sports days, prior to high school. Lee had a shock, realising at a bigger school, he was not as fast or as fit as he thought, especially in his worst event, the opposite end of the spectrum, cross country in physical education (P.E.). In the first couple of years Lee was usually in the back last five, of the long distance course. The third year Lee had taken up Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension exercises, given to him by his father, from when he was a kid. Lee was losing body fat and becoming broader rapidly. Mr Saunders, the high school well-known P.e teacher, in one particular lesson told the class “95 +% of you all here will be the fittest you ever will be right now”. Lee took it very seriously and to heart; nothing would ever be the same for Lee again!

Fifth year, Lee had found good form, after running well in the schools after school athletics club and giving him something to do, challenged the fastest guy in the school at the 400 metres sprint, to a race.

Lee believed he had a sporting chance and was prepared to go for it! The opponent was a lad called John Welsh. With poor planning, with Lee having no real idea of 400 metre specific training a few weeks later the race commenced. On the schools grass track Lee wore trainers, John wore cross country spikes. Lee went off like a bat out of hell, on the last 150 metres to go, Lee was running out of steam; John tore past Lee finishing in approximate time of 70 seconds and Lee 75 seconds. Lee shook john’s hand. This is where the real hunger for Lee began on the quest of conquering the intense one lap of the 400 metres, more so, setting the standard!

Fourteen years later, 2012 Lee joined the sprinters at Stoke Athletic Club to try and gain knowledge and specific skills in sprinting to give him every chance to achieve his aim. This involved commitment for the three times weekly trips to Stoke and obviously the added cost of fuel and time away from his Personal Training. Finding that block starts were not suitable with a 40lb pack, Lee had to practice standing starts, but also was pleased to find that without the pack he could compete with younger more experienced sprinters. As a training run Lee entered an indoor open meeting competing in 60m, his first ever sprint race against other sprinters whilst he was wearing the 40lb pack. He achieved a respectable 9.97secs and learnt a lot of valuable lessons.

Lowe Alpine impressed by Lee’s other World Records took him on board and made him one of their sponsored Athletes. Not wanting to leave any stone unturned Lee also looked at his sports nutrition further, another time consuming job that had to be done if he wanted to push the boundaries, as fast as possible. More sprint training followed now back at Crewe. Early nights are the order of the day to ensure a good 8 hour sleep every night.

Lee’s first time trial 400 metres with the new pack was timed 60.5 seconds by Roger Alsop at the Cumberland Athletic track Crewe. More refined preparation needed!

Next the first real attempt at Cumberland. This time some of Lee’s friends, clients and his mum were there as witnesses to document the time and the packs weight, to make it official, another solo run. Roger Alsop hand timed the sprint at 59.48 seconds. Lee had to lie down upon the finish, he had given it everything. Lee was in further shock to realise his mum had forgotten to record the sprint, being the major evidence required to prove the record! Doing it once for Lee was not enough, he felt that it had to be captured on film to be believed, more importantly to document the historic triumph.

An open meeting is looming at Stoke Athletic Club, will it come too soon in the training or should he just go for it? Lee never doubts himself, ever the optimist he decides to go for it. The race is late afternoon, not a time that Lee is use to running and the weather is not perfect, and though not raining as predicted it is very windy (12MPH). In a sprint like the 400m this is not good as there is so little time for error, especially to judge the so delicate infamous pacing of this distant. The race was disorganised and late starting due to two entrants arriving late, on the start lines. Was this supposed to be a proper race meeting? Lee was getting edgy; this is no way to start a race.

Then finally they are off and all that training is now put to the test, just Lee against the clock. It does not matter about the other runners now. The race is over so quick, and it’s very close. Has he done it? Nobody is sure, oh missed by a whisper in a time of 60.95, the disappointment shows in Lee’s face. He was so committed and sure that he could do this. The new pack has worked well and Lee vows it will not be long before he sets the standard of this record. As another training run and for fun (not many people would say this) Lee takes part in the killer mile at Mow Cop. One of the only remaining mile races still held, also one of the hardest with no level sections in the whole uphill race. Lee runs it twice, once with a 40lb pack in sub 11 minutes, 17 seconds of his last years’ time. Running straight back down the hill Lee ran in free order the second race in 9 minutes 22, a very respectable time.

Lee discovers there are fortnightly open meetings at Trafford on a Tuesday, Lee is eager to get this record in the bag so decides to enter. Information is sketchy about these open nights and Lee is unsure if he will be able to run in the 400m with the 40lb pack. He decides to go and if not allowed to run in the 400m then to enter the 800m without the pack as a training run. Arriving in what should have been good time, the track has a great feel about it, very intermit surrounded by houses. There is a fair crowd of supporters, a lot more than at Stoke. All this helps with your race. Lee finds the organisers and judges and they agree for Lee to run in the 400m with the pack, now time is short, Lee needs to be registered into the race and complete his warm up. Heat 4, lane 6 not perfect but let’s get on with it. Again there is a delay at the start and the 400m is running half an hour late, when to start your warm up? Then the runners are called to their marks and they are off. Lee sets off really quick but then eases off on the back straight thinking he needs to leave something for the final 200m, the other runners catch and pass him, then he is off again storming down the home straight to win the race, with a 40lb pack! Can this be true but has he achieved the sub 60secs that he has recently achieved in training. No its 61.3, Lee is mad with himself for easing off on the back straight and for the hasty preparation to the race. Also so close to the run up Mow Cop, not really enough recovery time. There is such a fine line in how much training to do and rest to have. He will be back in two weeks to get this record; this is all good experience and a good learning curve.

The weather is better and Lee is better prepared, now knowing the track and the process at these open meetings. Lee has had to drive himself tonight as he is on his own, only having family and friends as support in his mind at home, no professional team members for Lee. It’s all down to Lee, from organising training, races, transport, food all the way down to paperwork. Steve Cram is there, it does not get much better to witness this latest world record attempt, being the reigning British mile world record holder. Lee is totally focused tonight and is well rested after giving him the weekend off. The training was done weeks ago; it’s just down to Lee and the clock now. Lee is drawn on the inside in lane 1, probably the worst lane as its very tight especially with a 40lb pack and a standing start. A much more measured race, it’s just go for it, eye balls out and give it everything you have got. After all it’s less than a minute and it’s all over. Flying down the home straight at the back of the runners but not that far a drift, this time he has done it, 59.44, the exhilaration is clear to see. Another world record set, it’s becoming a habit.


The short version of just the race, from aerial view with thanks from Stuart Hayton at athleticos.

An interview with Steve Cram finishes off the evening on another high; he says he is gobsmacked by Lee’s achievements and that he would go to another of Lee’s record attempts to support him. There is no feeling like the one of achieving a world record. Lee, now nearly double the age he was, since the high school 400 metres race. He had gone under the minute, knocked over 15 seconds off his time back then, equivalent of finishing the race compared to his 16 year old attempt, with an 100 metres in the bank. Not forgetting this time he was also running with a 40lb pack also!

Lee against the clock……

We are concentrating on lots of new exciting developments for Riley Fitness at the present time. Watch this space for further announcements in the coming months.

Continue to Live the Dream


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3 Responses to RF Monthly – May#05 -The First Ever In History ! Sub 60sec 400m with a 40lb pack and Steve Cram !

  1. C.Whitcomb says:

    Lee well done on your running feats. Are you only going to stick to running or try other endurance feats. Also can you beat Mike Buss’s records He reckons the 400 meters can be achieved by him.

  2. John George Brewster says:

    Sir, Well done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m an ex serviceman (24years) In the pass I’ve competed in all sorts of events from 100m-400m-3000m steeplechase-5000m track&road-10km-10mile-half marathon flat & mountain half marathon (Kenya) & Full Marathon..regarding training with weight. My record in carrying 40ILBS for 2 miles..wearing a helmet carrying my personal weapon(SA80)not including water.10 mins 20 secs…I still run..between good times and the bad. Anyway what I am trying to say, even now at 45 years old I am still training with 35-40lbs Burgen on my back training on the steepest hills I can find..You may be thinking “Let it go and chill”

  3. J Brewster says:

    Sir, Well done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I’m an ex serviceman (24years) In the pass I’ve competed in all sorts of events from 100m-400m-3000m steeplechase-5000m track&road-10km-10mile-half marathon flat & Mountain Half Marathon (Kenya) & Full Marathon(British Army and German Events) Regarding training with weight.. This is my core training. My record in carrying 40ILBS for 2 miles..wearing a helmet carrying my personal weapon(SA80)not including water.10 mins 20 secs…I still run..between good times and the bad. Anyway what I am trying to say, even now at 45 years old I am still training with 35-40lbs Burgen on my back training on the steepest hills I can find..( Reliving the glory days ) You may be thinking “Let it go and chill” To some it up i am looking for a challenge.I’ve got more to give Iam not dead yet..I understand what training you have gone through (AT A DAILY BASIS)……RESPECT

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