Could you keep up with the woman’s marathon world record holder for even a hundred meters?
Ethiopian Tigist Assefa set the women’s marathon world record in Berlin in September 2013. Her pace would be challenging for an average fitness enthusiast, even over a very short distance.
Assefa improved the previous world record by over two minutes, stopping the clock at 2:11:53. This was only her third marathon, and her previous personal best had improved by nearly four minutes.
Breaking down Assefa’s run into parts helps us grasp the incredible speed of the 29-year-old runner.
Assefa’s pace was approximately 3:08 per kilometer (5:03 per mile).
For comparison, in the men’s marathon world record of 2:01:09 set by Eliud Kipchoge, the pace was about 2:52 per kilometer (4:37 per mile).
Assefa’s pace would mean, for instance, a result of over 3,800 meters (2.36 miles) in a 12-minute Cooper test.
Generally, covering 3,000 meters (1.86 miles) is already excellent for an average fitness enthusiast.
The Cooper test is a physical fitness test where you run for 12 minutes. It was developed by a former Air Force lieutenant, Kenneth H. Cooper.
When divided into 100 meters, a 3:08 kilometer time translates to 18.8 seconds per 100 meters. A flying start might help some regular runners handle a hundred meters in that time. But when the distance gets longer, it starts getting challenging.
Half a lap, or 200 meters, would need to be covered in 37.6 seconds.
But imagine what it would feel like to run one full lap, 400 meters, in 75 seconds. That’s quite a pace for an average runner (for the average Joe, 70 to 90 seconds would be an excellent time for the 400 meters).
After just one lap, there would still be about 104 laps left around a 400-meter track to complete a whole marathon.
The total distance of a marathon is 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles), which is about 105.5 times around a standard outdoor 400-meter track.