How Much Further For The Sub-Two-Hour Marathon?


The prospect of a sub-2-hour marathon continues to excite running fans, and possibly even more so sports physiologists. The latest paper on this topic, How Much Further For The Sub-Two-Hour Marathon?, has just been published by the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine. Written by scientists from Brazil, Greece, and Switzerland, the paper explores the possibility for improved performances in the men’s and women’s marathon.

It concludes that a sub-2-hour men’s marathon might be achieved in the next decade (2025-28) and that the winning runner is likely to be a 27-year old East African, probably an Ethiopian (though this nationality pick vs. the rest of East African is not explained). A sub-2 will take someone who has a super-high vo2max, lactate threshold, and running economy. It will require a flat course and an even-pace race effort. (Doh!)

And when will a female marathoner run faster than Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25, set in 2003? “This record will endure a little longer,” the researchers state.

No wonder. Her mark falls far below the nonlinear regression curve they drew from the annual best woman’s marathon times since the mid-1980s.