26.2 miles. 42.2 kilometers. The marathon is a beast that requires dedication, intense training, and a fit mind and body. Its history is long, dating back to 490 B.C. The name, marathon, was derived from the legend of Phillippides, a Greek messenger who was sent running from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, a 25 mile distance. Whereupon he collapsed and died after victoriously announcing that the Greeks had defeated the Persians.
Fast forward to 1896, when the first Olympics were held in Greece and the marathon was made an event. Spyridon Louis won this first male-only Olympic marathon with a time of 2 hours 58 minutes and 50 seconds. It wasn’t until the 1984 Summer Olympics that the women’s marathon became an event. At 2 hours 24 minutes and 52 seconds Joan Benoit grabbed the gold.
Annually, with the exception of 2020, there are more than 800 marathons organized worldwide. The current world record time was set by Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya. He completed the Berlin Marathon in just 2 hours 1 minute and 39 seconds. That’s 57 minutes and 11 seconds faster than Spyridon Louis!
But records are meant to be broken and Dr. Simon Angus predicts that 2032 could be the year that the elusive sub-two hour marathon running mark will be conquered. He predicts that the best time any living male can run this endurance race is in 1:58:05 and 2:05.31 for a female runner.
Dr. Angus, an ultramarathon runner and an associate professor of economics at Monash Business School, made his predictions using a statistical economic model including all official IAAF world record marathon performances of men and women since 1950. “Prospects of a male athlete going sub-two hours in an IAAF event, even in the near future, would appear high given that the most recent world record reduced the mark by 78 seconds, and the Nike ‘Breaking2” project produced a time just 25 seconds outside this two hour barrier. However, a 13 year wait seems more in line with the evidence.”
2032 may be 12 years away but athletes are always training and countries such as Australia, Indonesia, and Qatar are already taking steps to make a bid to host the Summer Olympics. It will be exciting to see if someone can shave off more than 3 minutes from the current world record…we will be watching!