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New Study Predicts Runners Will Break 2 Hours in the Marathon by 2032



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			<span class= JOHN MACDOUGALL Getty Images

What's the fastest time for a man to run a marathon? Even if you're a close study of the grueling, 26-mile endurance race, that's probably like an impossible question to answer. Times continue to drop-the current record, set in 2018 by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, is 2:01:39 but just how low can they go?

A recent study the answer: 1: 58.05-one hour, 58 minutes , and five seconds. That's little more than three minutes faster than the current record, and it cracks the two-hour barrier long targeted by the world's elite marathoners.

But it may be a while before we see that absolute peak performance; According to the study, the odds of a two-hour running marathon in 2024 are just 5 percent. Sure, by 2032 they rise to 10 percent, and by 2054 they are at a relative impressive 25 percent. We're talking about spending decades to enjoy the fastest marathon time.

That's the cold truth of statistics, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise the flagship journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. To reach that sobering conclusion, Simon Angus an associate professor of economics at Monash Business School and an ultramarathoner himself, applied to an economic model to data on the International Association of Athletics Federations record-breaking marathon performances going back to 1950.

That analysis establishes the theoretical limit on men's marathon records, as well as predicting how likely we are to see a sub-two-hour men's marathon. The results suggest elite marathoners are already competing near the very limits of human endurance. Since 1950, the first year included in the data, men's times have come down by 19 minutes, while the women's world record has fallen by one hour and 22 minutes.

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			<span class= DON EMMERT Getty Images

The model suggests there is no room for the gender gap. While the men's marathon record was broken just last year, the current women's record, 2:15:25, which set by Paula Radcliffe back in 2003. Meanwhile, the model predicts that women may never break the two-hour marathon; it suggests a physical limit of 2: 05.31. But while the men's world record is just a hair slower than the theoretical limit, the women's record is almost ten minutes slower.

With a world record that has not moved in 15 years, and the potential to improve times by almost 10 minutes, the study argues, women's marathon records are ripe for challenging. With support and resources, in the form of a "sub-130 minute" project, it suggests female marathoners could close the distance between today's record and their theoretical peak performance. And who knows? Maybe with the right opportunity, one of them wants to prove the wrong facts.


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