Road Race Stats - Marathons & Other Running Races

Friday, February 25, 2005

Are Women Catching Up With Men?

A Runner's World article asked the question "Are Women Catching Up With Men?". Some have theorized that women may have physical advantages over men at ultra endurance events. Women are getting closer to the men in the marathon. For example, the men's world record for the marathon is 2:04:55 while the women's recoard is 2:15:25 (only about 8% difference).

The author of this article described a study he had done in the 90's in which a sample of subscribers to Runner's World provided their gender and best 5K and marathon times. The results show that the men's marathon times were 10.71 times slower over their 5K times. However, the women's marathon times were 10.45 times slower. So there was slight indication that women slow down less in long distance races.

The author admits, however, there were too many variables to draw the conclusion that women are naturally better at long distances.

Nevertheless, I thought I would look at the same thing based on the stats from my previous post. Who slowed down the most from the half marathon to the full? Men or Women? As in the case with the Runner's World study, there are too many other variables to reach definite conclusions. But just for fun, I ran the numbers. Here's what I found:

In 2005, women's mean full marathon times were 2.01 times greater than women's mean half marathon time (4:50:44/2:24:34).

The men's ratio is 2.08 (4:19:24/2:04:31). So just like the Runner's World study, women had less of a slowdown.

The results are similar in 2004: women's ratio is 2.08 (4:45:02/2:16:54) and the men's ratio is 2.12 (4:10:08/1:57:52). Again, the women had less of a slowdown.

Any idea why this is the case? Perhaps men tend to start out too fast? (BTW, comments are appreciated!)

I wonder how common this trend is? I'll keep looking at this in future races.


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