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How Fast is the New Marathon World Record, Really?

Dennis Kimetto could probably beat a horse in a 26.2-miler.

On Sunday morning in Berlin, while most of us snoozed off the previous evening’s shenanigans, a human being – propelled by only his two legs – traveled 26.2 miles through Berlin’s streets in two hours, two minutes, and 57 seconds. 

Dennis Kimetto’s world record performance at the Berlin Marathon is hard to fully appreciate. Let’s put it in perspective.

-Kimetto sustained an average pace of just under 13 miles-per-hour for two hours.

-His mile pace was 4:42, faster than the fastest speed an average treadmill can reach (five minutes per mile).

-The average marathon finish time for men in 2013 was 4:16:24 according to Running USA. Kimetto likely showered, ate, and napped by then, but by maintaining his same pace, he could have circled back and run the whole course again and still beat that average time by 10 minutes.

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-During one stretch near the halfway mark, Kimetto logged a 5K time of 14:09. That’s only 32 seconds slower than the national high school 5K record (13:37.91 by Galen Rupp). Keep in mind Kimetto still had to run about 13 more miles (or 4 more 5K’s) to finish.

-There’s no statistics for how fast a horse can run 26 miles, but there is a 22-mile race in Wales called the Man versus Horse Marathon. Granted, the race is on rougher terrain, but the winning horse in 2014 finished in 2:22:53. You can assume Kimetto versus a horse would be a close race (and fantastic television). 

-I live five miles away from the office with a subway commute that takes just over 40 minutes. Kimetto could get here on foot in 23 minutes, before continuing on his merry way for another 21 miles.

-We could crunch numbers all day but there’s only one thing you need to know. The new marathon world record of 2:02:57 is mind-bogglingly fast. 


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