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How Low Can the Marathon Go?

September 26th, 2011 · Comments Off on How Low Can the Marathon Go? · Track & Field

The sub-2 hour marathon is a track and field barrier as talked about as the 4-minute mile. The world record in the marathon was broken this week, with Kenya’s Patrick Makau setting a new mark of 2:03:38, beating the old record of Haile Gebrselassie by 21 seconds. Even assuming improvements at the same rate, there has been a drop of  21 seconds in three years meaning it will take another 30 years to break the two hour mark. See the progression of marathon world best times, where you can see that reducing the record from 2:16 to 2:12 took seven years, 2:12 to 2:08 took 19 years, and from 2:08 to the current mark  took another 27 years. Actually using scientific analysis of the trend of actual performances, Professor Francois Peronnet at the University of Montreal has calculated that the first sub two-hour marathon will be run in the year 2028. We have had a poll online asking which world athletics benchmark will be broken next, the 100m in 9.5 seconds or a marathon in 2 hours? The marathon is currently leading the race, though 7 percent of respondents think neither will reach those marks. It may be true that many of us will not live to see those times beaten, though I think one day they will. These records tend to have significant and unexpected jumps in improvement, we just have to wait for the time a sporting freak chances upon the right training and nutrition, prepares for the event perfectly and runs under ideal conditions on a flat and fast course with good pacemakers. That wont happen very often.

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