A six-man field led by two top middle distance runners gave it their best shot on Saturday and fell short at the Hershey Canadian Indoor Open Championships at the Claude Robillard centre.
Laguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, the 400-metre silver medallist at the 2012 Olympics, won in one minute 16.01 seconds, well short of the indoor record of 1:15.12 set in 1999 in Germany by Nico Motchebon.
Mark Wieczorek of Seattle was second in 1:17.04 and Dai Greene of Wales, who had flown over just to take a shot at the record, was well off the pace in third at 1:17:59.
"The world record is a tough time," said Wieczorek. "I thought I'd at least crack 1:16, so I'm a little bit disappointed. But I put myself in the position I wanted to be, moving with Santos for the last lap. I did the right things positioning-wise."
The 600 is a rarely run event, but enough top runners have tried it that it is surprising the world indoor mark has lasted so long. It is mainly used in the winter off-season to help improve endurance for the 400 metres or boost speed for the 800.
Greene, the 400 metre hurdles world champion in 2011, ran slower than he did in his only previous crack at the 600. He posted 1:16.22 in 2013 in Scotland.
"I got a decent start," said 28-year-old Greene. "The pace was good, but a guy (Wieczorek) passed me just before the 400 mark and I had to chop my stride down, so I lost all my rhythm.
"But I wouldn't have been able to catch Santos today. He was really good."
The lanky Greene said the four-lane track was not ideal for him.
"It's very shallow," he said. "It has to be steeper and wider. It's OK for the smaller guys, but for the taller guys it's harder."
Santos is familiar with the track. It is the third winter in a row he has spent time training in Montreal.
"We try to do this race looking for endurance and strength for the outdoor season for his main event, the 400," said his coach Jose Rubio.
The other feature race saw Helen Crofts of Vancouver take the women's 800 metres in 2:07.96 ahead of local favourite Karine Belleau-Beliveau (2:08.37) and Jessica Smith of Vancouver (2:09.16).
"I can't say enough about Jessica and Karine, I knew it would be a close race and I wanted to stay relaxed and be ready," said Crofts.
She was an interested spectator for the men's 600. She has tried the 600 before and said "it is hard. It's different from an 800 because it's faster so you have to go out aggressively, but it hurts no matter what you run."
Matt Loiselle of Toronto took the men's 3,000 metres in 8:39.0.
Vancouver's Racewalk West club took the top two spots in the 5,000 metre event with Evan Dunfee on top in his first indoor meet at 19 minutes 23.44 seconds.