Marathons

The Night of Flanders: the extraordinary story of Jean-Paul Praet

On Sunday 14 February, Sporza will launch De Nacht van Vlaanderen, a Flemish documentary film in which Ruben Van Gucht tells the extraordinary story of the ultra-runner Jean-Paul Praet for the first time in history.

The list of world record holders – Bolt, El Guerrouj, Bekele, Komen, Gebrselassie – also includes a Belgian. You don’t know him? The Night of Flanders introduces you to Jean-Paul Praet.

No one on this planet has ever walked 100 kilometers faster. Praet, 65 years young, from Denderleeuw, did it in 1986 with a dizzying average of 16.5 km/h, on West Flemish roads, during night hours and with thousands of people on the side of the road.

In a one-off documentary film, Ruben Van Gucht tells the never-before-told story of ultra-runner Jean-Paul Praet, the man who achieved a world-class performance during the Night of Flanders in 1986 and is therefore still at the top of the table. Or at least, should stand.

Now, 35 years later, the world record is held by the Japanese Kazami. 6h09’14”, six minutes slower than the impossible 6h03’51” by Praet from 1986.

In De Nacht van Vlaanderen, Sporza goes in search of reparation, for the true facts of what happened that night, how things went wrong afterwards. But this story isn’t just about the sportsman.

The Night of Flanders is also about the special person that Praet is, about the incomprehensible character of walking infinitely, the why, the usefulness and the pleasure of it.

De Nacht van Vlaanderen: Sunday 14 February at 4.45 pm on One.

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