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What is the fastest a marathon can be run?

Posted Sep 27 2011 5:44am

It looks like there was big news at the Berlin Marathon yesterday. Patrick Makau broke the marathon world record by running it in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 38 seconds. This is 21 seconds faster than the previous world record. Wow!! Of course, he wasn’t joggling. ;)

There are a couple of things about this story that I find interesting.

1. The world record is not the fastest marathon ever run. This was done by Geoffrey Mutai in a time of 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds in the Boston marathon last year. Unfortunately for him the Boston course does not qualify so his time doesn’t count as a world record. That seems dumb.

2. Records keep getting broken. It seems to me in a sport like running, there isn’t much reason for records to keep getting faster. It’s not like new technology can give you a significant edge like in other sports (golf, tennis, baseball, etc). It’s not like there is new training techniques. I just don’t get it. Perhaps it’s just because there are so many new runners that the law of large numbers will dictate that there will be times farther and farther away from the average. hmmm

The article asks the question whether the world record will ever break the 2 hour mark. Former world record holder Haile Gebrselassie thinks that it will happen in another 20 or 25 years. Maybe, but I see no reason for that to happen.

Of course, predicting limits is always a silly activity because they inevitably are shown to be wrong. Perhaps the 2 hour marathon mark will be broken. Certainly, the 4 min mile was broken and if you can run 4 minutes for one mile, why couldn’t you do it for 26.2?

Say jogglers, what do you think will happen first?

The marathon world record will be under 2-hours…or…
The joggling marathon world record will be under 2:30?

Hmmm.

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