Saturday, October 15, 2011

World Record Prediction

I suppose it's human nature that when something or someone in your life is gone, that's when your appreciation is really revealed. I can think of a few examples in my life.

Now that I stopped running, again, I'm thinking a lot about running. I'm planning a spring marathon, something to look forward to assuming my body is in a condition to run it. I'm listening to the podcast "Marathon Talk" obsessively. I'm currently up to episode number 41. This is THE SHOW for marathon news.

Speaking of marathon news, a new world record was set a few weeks ago at the Berlin marathon by Patrick Makau from Kenya in 2 hours 3 minutes 38 seconds. That's an average mile pace of 4 minutes 43 seconds. Putting this into perspective my 1 mile personal best was 4 minutes 39 seconds. It was on a flat track when I was 17 years old. This time wasn't anything special. In fact, I placed third in the race. But yet, it was my best effort and I only did it once for 1 mile. I can't imagine running that pace 25 more times in a row.

Last year I analyzed the history of world marathon records to predict when a sub 2 hour marathon would be achieved. I was curious. I did this by putting the record times and dates from Wikipedia in a spreadsheet and fitting the data to an algebraic function to extrapolate the trend curve into the future.

Source: Wikipedia 2010

The data and trend curve are shown in the graph below. It shows that a sub 2 hour marathon should be achieved by around 2060, perhaps a few years earlier. So mark your centennial calendars.


  1. I'll buy you a beer if your prediction comes to pass.


  2. Ha! I'll take you up on that if we are both still around. I originally wrote that I would run across the United States if the prediction wasn't met (thinking that there would most likely not be a sub 2 hour marathon by 2060 and I might not be alive at 91 years old). Then I thought hold on, if a sub 2 hour marathon is achieved in say 25-30 years then I could be commiting myself in my 60s or 70s. Wouldn't that be brilliant.