Marathon Records


I took a rest day today so not much to report on a personal running front – except that I’m truly looking forward to a 10 miler tomorrow 🙂

Instead I thought I’d share something I learned in my Conditioning for Competitive Athletics class today.  The new semester started this past Monday and my CCA class is the one I’m looking forward to the most.  The semester is split into two parts.  The first half we’re focusing on endurance training, specifically running!  Today we talked about marathon records.

Right now the world record for the fastest marathon is 2:03:38 (that’s a 4:43 pace for 26.2 miles!!), set by Patrick Makau of Kenya in the Berlin Marathon in September of 2011.

2:03:38 – SO FAST!

Not far behind is Paula Radcliffe who holds the women’s world marathon record of 2:15:25 (a 5:10 pace for 26.2 miles!!).  

2:15:25 SO FAST!!

After we talked about the records and all the physiology behind setting a marathon record, my professor showed us a graph of the records over the years and made the prediction that somebody will break 2 hours, probably in the next 20 years!  That will be a huge accomplishment in human performance when it happens.  A debate ensued amongst the grad students based on the graph over who the 2 hour record would go to first – a male or a female?  Look at the graph, use your stereotypical opinions and make a guess.

Women are droppin fast! Will they pass the boys?

Who do you think will break the 2 hour record first – a man or a woman?



4 responses »

  1. Hard to say. I just hope I’m still running when it happens. I’ll be 72. I’d love to hear more on the rationale behind it being a woman. Is that because female times are increasing at a much higher rate than the men’s?

    • Yes, it’s just based on the graph. But women have only been running this distance about 30 years (as you know from your post about it!) but have all the knowledge and tools that the boys had to gain over a century. I’m pullin for the girls but honestly think it will be a man – no female has come close to Paula’s current record….will be exciting for sure!

  2. I’m going to say a male will do is and my reasoning is that nobody has come CLOSE to Paula Radcliffe’s record. When she set her 2:15 record, the male record was just under 2:05. Today, 2:05 won’t get you into the top 10 fastest runners on the male side. However, the closest anyone has come to breaking Radcliffe’s record was Lilya Shobuhkova at the 2011 Chicago Marathon, where she ran just slightly over 2:18.

    These days, the marathon record is broken by seconds. Makau bested Gebrselassie’s record by 21 seconds. Wilson Kipsang’s 2011 Frankfurt race (2:03:42) was seconds away from the record. Geoffrey Mutai’s 2012 Berlin Run (2:04:15) was also under a minute away. But Shobokhova, the female runner that has come closest to Radcliffe’s astounding word record, was almost three minutes off.

    Obviously, there is a lot at work here. Was Radcliffe simply the best of the best by a long shot? The numbers speak for themselves: she is the Usain Bolt / Michael Jordan of the sport. That would explain the sharp dropoff in the female world record. But given that the vast majority of marathons are won by women with times between 2:20 and 2:30, I don’t see a sub-2-hour marathon in the women’s division happening for a long, long time.

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