Pace by distance

I read an article today on the Freakonomics blog about the relative paces of world record-holding athletes over different distances. Its specific focus was on who was indeed the fastest person in the world, and whether the 100m or the 200m world record holder was, on average, faster. (The point is somewhat moot now that Usain Bolt holds both records.) Anyway, I did some analysis.

Below is a chart I put together showing the average speed of different distances’ world record holders over 100m.

World record paces

Right-click and View Image for a closer look at the chart in FireFox; there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent in IE7. I’ve given cuts of the data every ten years, working back from 2008. For each series, data starts where records begin. The half-marathon has the steepest gradient in recent history, probably down to the event being taken more seriously in more recent years. (For completeness, the 1908 marathon record equated to 24.93 seconds per 100 metres, but its inclusion squashed the scale unnecessarily.) The 60m record is 9.9% slower in pace than the 100m record, but the 100m and 200m paces have pretty much kept in line with one another, the extra distance and the impact of the bend in the 200m being counterbalanced by the impact the acceleration has on the time of the 100m. Below is a closer look at these two.

World record paces: 100m and 200m

No conclusions; merely food for thought. Maybe.


Leave a Reply