Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Fast Can People Run? Depends on How Far

"How Fast can Humans run 100 Meters to Marathon"
What is Speed of World's Fastest Man or Woman and of Average People
© Paul A. Heckert, Suite 101 (August 17, 2009)

"How to calculate the average speed of runners in races of various distances from 100 meters to 100 miles. How fast is the world's fastest man or woman?

"Every four years the winners of the Olympic gold medals in the 100 meter runs are unofficially crowned as the world's fastest man and woman. How fast can they run? How fast can the winners of longer races and average runners run?
How to Calculate Average Speed

To calculate the average speed of anything physicists divide the total distance by the time it takes to travel that distance. The formula is:...

There's more, including records and numbers for more average people.

Turns out that people who run marathons typically run at between five and eight miles an hour - depending on how long they're running. It's 8.7 miles an hour for people who only run for three hours; 5.2 for those who go six hours.

I know: that doesn't sound very fast. But then, we're used to mile-a-minute vehicles, and top speeds for animals that specialize in short bursts, or that fly.

The 2008 winner for a 100-mile endurance run for horses crossed the finish line about 17 hours and 46 minutes after the race started. "The course consists of a 25 mile out and back on an unimproved rail trail. The course is flat with grassy and gravel surface. No hills, shaded." (Iron Horse endurance runs, Florahome, Florida)

There's a human equivalent for that Iron Horse race: the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. As "How Fast..." puts it:

"This endurance race is a 100.2 mile run in the Sierra mountains of California. Runners battle cold, heat, mountains, and distance to complete this race.

"Scott Jurec set the men's record in 2004 by running the 100.2 miles in 15 hours 36 minutes 27 seconds. Ann Trason set the women's record with a time of 17 hours 37 minutes 51 seconds in 1994...."

Both of them took less time to finish a slightly longer course, over much more difficult terrain, than the equine winner.

Not bad, really.

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