A wide-ranging study has shown women to be better than men when it comes to pacing marathons.
Women in marathons were found to slow down 11.5% on average in the second half. However, men slowed by 14.1%. Pictured is the Cambridge Boundary Run marathon.
Data from runrepeat.com analysing more than 2.3 million marathon results reveals that women are 18.33% better at maintaining their pace over the second half.
The researchers looked at results from 2009-2019 at all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors races (Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London, New York, Paris). They found that men on average slowed by 14.1% over the second half, compared to the first. Women, on the other hand, slowed by 11.5% in the second 13.1 miles.
Overall, more than 92% of runners ran a faster first half than second, even though most advice is that even pacing is the best strategy.
Men ran 5:43/km on average in the first half, compared to 6:40/km in the second. For women, this was 6:26 versus 7:16.
Unsurprisingly, when it came to 5km splits, the first segment is the fastest of the race on average. For example, for men, this was 5:26 and the average slowed to only 5:38 for the 15-20km section. However, for the 35-40km split, it reduced to 6:41.
The study also compared runners from different countries. They found the percentage of women dropping off in the second half was lowest among Finnish runners (7.3%). The Belgians were next best with 7.7%.
It is not the first time that women have been found to be better at pacing than men. A 2016 study by scientists at Leeds Becket University reported that elite women tended to better at pacing than their male counterparts.