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Running a marathon in less than 2 hours not possible until 2032

Credits : Pixabay / Scapin

The fastest marathon ever run was by the Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge who run the Berlin marathon in 2018 in 2 hours 1 minutes and 39 seconds.  The second fastest runner was Dennis Kimetto also from Kenya who managed to run the distance in two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds in 2014 also in Berlin.  As time goes on the time taken to run the famous marathon of 26.2 miles shortens.  However is it possible for runners to run the distance in under 2 hours?

Apparently yes, but not until 2023

At least this is what a study published in the American College of Sports Medicine journal suggests. There is also only a 10% chance that this threshold will be crossed by this date. “The likelihood of this happening is extremely low,” says Simon Angus of Monash University in Melbourne. The researcher also notes that the best time achievable by a human is fixed at 1 h 58 min 05 seconds. Running the marathon any faster would physically impossible.

According to the study this two hour bar could only be crossed by a man.  According to the model the best time that a female athlete could run a marathon would be 2 hours 5 minutes and 31 seconds.  Currently the best performance by a female athlete recognised by the IAAF is the British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe.  In 2003 the sportswoman ran the London marathon in 2 hours 15 minutes and 21 seconds. .

The Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge ran the Berlin Marathon in 2018 in 2 hours, one minute and 39 seconds. Credits: Wikipedia

There are several conditions that need to come together when athletes want to break records. Sabrina Stierwalt,  a physicist from the Technology Institute of California believe there are three conditions that need to work together.  The first, she says, depends on the speed that oxygen circulates around the body.  This rate is measured in mililitres of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute and is called VO2 max.  On average, male adults have a VO2 max of 35 to 40 mL/kg/min whereas woman have an average VO2 max of between 27-31 mL/kg/min.  Seasoned riders, on the other hand, have much higher rates. About 85 mL / kg / min for men and 77 mL / kg / min for women.

The researcher also say that genetics play a crucial role.  Our genetics influences how our muscle fibers are regulated. According to the physicist, fast-twitch fibers are effective for fast movements such as sprinting, while slow-twitch muscle fibers are better for long distances like the marathon. Runners must also have a heart strong enough to support a heart rate of approximately 160 beats per minute (approximately 80% of their maximum heart rate) for several hours

…. and the perfect conditions

Lastly there is also the course conditions.  As well as a wind factor (you can’t run as fast if you have wind in your face), there is also the terrain quality which can play on crucial role.  It isn’t just luck that all these records have been broken in Berlin.  The course is generally flatter than other.  The researcher also notes that the majority of records are beaten in September and April while the temperatures are moderate.

If you filled in all these conditions and you trained enough, you would have about a 10% chance that you could run a marathon under 2 hours in 2032.  Who will break the two hour barrier?


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