The Park Place Economist


Unlike other sports such as baseball, basketball, football, and other team sports, the performance of a runner is not affected by the teammates around them or by an opponent’s defense. The only person that can impact the runner’s performance is the runner. At first glance, it may seem that elite marathon runners only come from African countries, but when digging deeper, the variable that makes an elite runner successful may surprise you. The purpose of this paper is to explore the variables that have the greatest impact on elite marathon runner’s performance. In addition to this, this paper attempts to answer the question: Has there been improvement in female runners over a ten-year period? The issue of gender performance in sports has been explored in other sports, but looking at the marathon event specifically will be interesting.

The current paper compares various variables in marathon running during the 2005 World Marathon Majors and the 2015 World Marathon major races. Performance data are from the following races are: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City. Other variables analyzed include: gender, age, number of past marathons run at time of race, and course. To compare courses, there will be a control variable for each course. It is important to focus on elite runners in the biggest races for a couple reasons. First, elite runners tend to have more consistent race performance times as opposed to the casual runner who will see large fluctuations in their time. Second, the choice of World Marathon Major races is being used due to the strict regulations for these races by the IAAF.