Spanish athlete Maria Perez broke the women’s world record for the 35-kilometer (or 21.7 mile) race walk during an event in the Czech Republic on Sunday. According to the World Athletics Race Walking Tour, Perez finished the race in 2 hours, 37 minutes, and 15 seconds.
In an announcement, the organization said the 27-year-old Perez was favored to win despite back-to-back disqualifications in 2018. Unlike running events, race walkers are tested on their endurance and judged on their technique. In the rules, the event requires participants to always keep one foot in contact with the ground.
In a statement, Perez explained she focused on moving past her mistakes and winning the competition in Podebrady, Czech Republic. “We worked on the technique and I wanted to show that I am really well prepared,” she said. “The technique was still not the best but I am working on it. It will be even better.”
In addition to setting a world record, beating the old one by 29 seconds (set by Peru’s Kimberly Garcia in March), and finishing a full eight minutes ahead of her competition, Perez became the first Spanish athlete to set an official world record.
“It is a nice feeling to finish the race and the time is a big reward for this,” she said. “I did not think of any time or any special target before the start, I just wanted to finish the best I could.”
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