Thursday, October 22, 2009

The low marathon bar

Purists believe that running a marathon should be just that — running the entire course at a relatively fast clip. They point out that a six-hour marathoner is simply participating in the event, not racing in it. Slow runners have disrespected the distance, they say, and have ruined the marathon’s mystique. ...

In 1980, the median finishing time for male runners in United States marathons was 3 hours 32 minutes 17 seconds, a pace of about eight minutes per mile. In 2008, the median finishing time was 4:16, a pace of 9:46. For women, that time in 1980 was 4:03:39. Last year, it was 4:43:32. ...

Last year, 44 percent of the field for [the Honolulu Marathon] finished in more than six hours — with some marathoners stopping for lunch along the course.
--Juliet Macur, NYT, on "running" the marathon

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