The marathon and shorter distance races record comparison

Why differences in the world record improvements between the marathon and shorter distance races over the last 20 years for both men and women are so great? The article provides a physiologically informed discussion.

Over the past 2 years, the marathon world record for both men (2:01:39, h:min:s, Eliud Kipchoge, Berlin, 2018) and women (2:14:04, Brigid Kosgei, Chicago, 2019) has been broken in events sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). In exhibitions not sanctioned by the IAAF the marathon distance has been covered in 1:59:41 by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. Over the last 30 years, the improvement in the world record is just over five minutes for men and seven minutes for women or ~4–5%. By contrast, the world record for the 1,500-m run has improved by ~1–2% for both sexes during that time.


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