How fast are the top Marathoners running?
There have been some exciting races in Canada the past couple weekends. I saw the Canadian Woman’s Marathon Record broken by Lanni Marchant in Toronto at the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon on October 20th. Inspiring runners, like Lanni and Krista Duchene, both who ran faster than the 28 year woman’s record at that Toronto Marathon, are such a joy to watch in action and they challenge me to keep pushing myself. The male winner at the Waterfront Marathon, Deressa Chimsa, ran the fastest marathon ever run in Canada. So how fast are this amazing athletes running?
When you watch even the top marathoners come across the finish line, it is deceiving – they look strong and fast, but compared to sprinters they can look slow, to our eyes. Let’s look at the stats and see what they are actually accomplishing:
Deressa Chimsa, from Ethiopia, won the marathon in a time of 2:07:04. This means he was running each kilometer (on average) in 3:01. This translates into a 4:51 mile pace. On a treadmill setting this is 12.4 miles per hour! The top of the line treadmills at the gym only go up to 12 miles per hour maximum (and many home treadmills only go as quickly as 10 miles per hour). Try running at 12 miles per hour the next time you are on a treadmill and see how long (if at all) you can run at this pace. Then remember that Chimsa ran at this pace for 26.2 miles. Impressive.
I am not Ethiopian, nor a male, so let me explore Lanni Marchant’s accomplishment. She was the third woman to finish the Toronto Marathon, finishing behind Flomena Cheyech of Kenya and Sechale Adugna of Ethiopia. Her finishing time was 2:28:00, the fastest marathon time ever run by a Canadian Woman. Lanni’s average pace was 3:31 per km. I can actually run a km at that pace (unlike the 3:01!), but she ran at that pace for 42.2 km! For those who think in miles, this translates to a 5:39 mile pace (I would be hard pressed to run for an entire mile at that pace) and a treadmill speed of 10.6. At this pace, her average 10k was a 35:10 and she ran that four times plus 2.2km (her first 10km was actually 34:52, so she slowed slightly as the race pr0gressed). There are very few women who can run a single 10km race at that pace.
I did my 400m repeats this evening to work on speed and leg turnover. I ran each 400 m at approx. 79 sec (it is my first speed workout after the half marathon) – which is a pace of 3:18 per km. I can run 400m quicker than the top woman marathoners – but this is 400m! And it is still slower than Chimsa’s overall marathon pace of 3:01. This is certainly eye-opening and inspiring. This is not to discourage all of us – it is to remind us of the incredibly hard work that goes into the winning race times and to keep us striving to push ourselves. There is more speed in all of us, we just need to keep wanting it and working for it!