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  • Weather conditions for fastest marathons

    Some more stats to add to the revised marathon alltime lists from this weekend and to further put the great runs of Rotterdam and Paris into perspective. Below are the weather conditions from the 11 fastest marathons ever. I wasn't sure when all the races started so I list weather conditions for 7AM and 10AM, I figure any marathon will be around those times. Note that the weather statistics are from the weather underground:
    http://www.wunderground.com/history

    And thus some of the samples are taken at airports or points outside the city which may influence some of the values slightly. Listed are the temperature, dew point, humidity and wind speed.

    Times and dates of races taken from Pela2's site:
    http://www.alltime-athletics.com/mmaraok.htm

    The first column lists the fastest time for that marathon (that year), the marathon and year, the start time weather conditions, and then the end time weather conditions.

    2:03:59 - Berlin 2008 - 44.6F / 44.6F / 100% / 8.1mph - 55.4F / 50.0F / 82% / 8.1mph
    2:04:26 - Berlin 2007 - 53.6F / 48.2F / 82% / 10.4mph - 57.2F / 50.0F / 77% / 15.0mph
    2:04:27 - Rotterdam 2009 - 42.8F / 41.0F / 93% / 3.5mph - 44.6F / 42.8F / 87% / 3.5mph
    2:04:53 - Dubai 2008 - 51.8F / 44.6F / 76% / 5.8mph - 60.8F /42.8F / 52% / 5.8mph
    2:04:55 - Berlin 2003 - 39.2F / 37.4F / 93% /3.5mph - 55.4F / 42.8F / 63% / 4.6mph
    2:05:15 - London 2008 - 39.2F / 39.2F / 100% / 6.9mph - 50.0F / 42.8F / 76% / 6.9mph
    2:05:29 - Dubai 2009 - 55.4F / 46.4F / 72% / 9.2mph - 62.6F / 46.4F / 55% / 6.9mph
    2:05:38 - London 2002 - 37.4F / 32.0F / 81% / calm - 44.6F / 37.4F / 76% / 2.3mph
    2:05:42 - Chicago 1999 - 48.0F / 18.0F / 30% / 3.5mph - 41.0F / 21.9F / 47% / 4.6mph
    2:05:47 - Paris 2009 - 44.6F / 42.8F / 93% / calm - 50.0F / 42.8F / 76% / 4.6mph
    2:05:49 - Rotterdam 2008 - 44.6F / 41.0F / 87% / 6.9mph - 48.2F / 42.8F / 82% / 11.5mph

    Some cursory observations:
    Start time ranges:
    Temp: 37.4F - 55.4F
    Dew Point: 18.0F - 48.2F
    Humidity: 30% - 100%
    Wind Speed: 0 - 10.4mph

    End time ranges:
    Temp: 41.0F - 62.6F
    Dew Point: 21.9F - 50.0F
    Humidity: 47% - 87%
    Wind Speed: 2.3mph - 15.0mph

  • #2
    wonderful stats! I'd be curious as to the presence of precip during the races.

    But for me the bottom line is that so many of these races have temperatures which wouldn't be comfortable to stand around in without proper clothing, thereby leading uninformed observers to say/write that the conditions were "unfavorable" when indeed they were delightful for distance running.

    I long ago lost track of the number of times where I've read "despite the conditions" when in fact it may have been the conditions that helped lead to the fast times.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for compiling these, Joel.

      What does this tell us about optimal marathon temperatures?

      There are a lot of big marathons with high quality fields with hotter temperatures than these, so the data point to optimal temperatures being no higher than these. But I'm wondering if the sample is sufficiently large for colder temperatures to conclude that temps colder than these negatively affect performance. If the temperature is, say, 25 at the start and 35 at the finish, other things being equal, is marathon pace going to be slower than with a temperature of 40 at the start and 50 at the finish?

      Coty

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      • #4
        Another useful variable here--and I'm not kidding--would be prize money per race. That's what attracts the top talent in the first place...

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by kuha
          Another useful variable here--and I'm not kidding--would be prize money per race. That's what attracts the top talent in the first place...
          If anyone's doing a compilation like that, published bonus money would be another factor to consider.

          Comment


          • #6
            Malmo has a pretty good stock of weather conditions for major races/performances, as I recall. His informed opinions are slightly different from that of some other commentators.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the comments everyone and the other factors (precipitation (especially after Geb's Dubai '09 run), prize money, bonus money, etc) would be great to look at as well. I decided to look all these stats up when the commentators at Rotterdam were remarking on the 80% humidity; I didn't know how that stacked up against other top marathons.

              11 data points is way too small to draw any conclusions, and to really look at some trends, one would want to get stats on all the sub2:09 or sub2:10 marathons to do more rigorous statistics. Of course, it all depends on what you want to look at/prove. My feeling is that there are a lot of other confounding variables that make looking at the effects of temperature very hard: including the points above, there is quality of field, presence of Olympics that year, prize money, planned pace for the rabbits, etc. I think if you could get all this data for all the major races, and then normalize the times to the WR at the time, one could investigate the effects; of course, getting all this data would be very very hard. Well I haven't put too much thought into this...I suppose one could assume each individual marathon is fairly consistent from year to year and then look at the effects of temperature that year, and repeat for each of the top marathons. That "study" would be a bit easier to pull off.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by joeltetreault
                Thanks for the comments everyone and the other factors (precipitation (especially after Geb's Dubai '09 run), prize money, bonus money, etc) would be great to look at as well. I decided to look all these stats up when the commentators at Rotterdam were remarking on the 80% humidity; I didn't know how that stacked up against other top marathons.
                .
                Humidity is a meaningless stat. Think dew point.

                Comment

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