Study: Bos­ton is ac­tu­ally the slow­est Marathon Ma­jor course

Canadian Running - - CROSSROADS -

Bos­ton has a mixed rep­u­ta­tion when it comes to its course. It’s far from f lat, as any­one who has crested Heart­break Hill can at­test. Heart­break is the fourth and fi­nal hill in a se­ries of chal­leng­ing in­clines that come just be­fore the 20-mile (32.2k) mark of the race. Yet over­all, Bos­ton is a net down­hill course, drop­ping 136 m over the course of the full 42.2k dis­tance. Be­cause of this and its point-to­point na­ture, Bos­ton is not el­i­gi­ble for world records.

In 2011, Ge­of­frey Mu­tai ran the fastest-ever marathon in Bos­ton in 2:03:02 (Den­nis Kimetto has since run faster, clock­ing a 2:02:57 in Berlin in 2014). At the time, some, in­clud­ing Bos­ton of­fi­cials, be­lieved it should be con­sid­ered a le­git­i­mate record and lob­bied to have it listed as a world record. Their ef­forts ul­ti­mately failed. This nev­er­the­less helped to sup­port the no­tion that Bos­ton could be a fast course if con­di­tions were right.

But a new study pub­lished in the jour­nal PLOS One casts doubt on that claim. The study looked at the top 10 male and fe­male fin­ish times from 2005 to 2014 from the orig­i­nal five World Marathon Ma­jors (Bos­ton, Lon­don, Berlin, Chicago and New York) and com­pared the re­sults.

Find­ings showed that Lon­don had the fastest times, fol­lowed closely by Berlin. Bos­ton, on the other hand, fea­tured the slow­est av­er­age times, just slightly slower than New York. Crit­i­cism of the study rightly points out that this anal­y­sis looks only at the very fastest run­ners who may be mo­ti­vated to run based on prize money and ap­pear­ance fees. It ig­nores the av­er­age fin­isher.

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