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2008 Was Record Year for Fast Marathons
By David Monti
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
January 8, 2008

By almost any measure, 2008 was the greatest year for the number of fast marathons times run throughout the world, according to statistics compiled by the Association of Road Running Statisticians and published in the latest edition of the Analytical Distance Runner.

In 2008 there were 1342 sub-2:20 statistically valid performances by men, up 11% from 2007, the previous record year.  Truly elite performances also exploded, with 257 sub-2:12 marks, 169 sub-2:11, 106 sub-2:10, and 66 sub-2:09.  Each of those totals were records.

At the very highest end of the sport, sub-2:08 performances grew to 36, up 33% from the previous record in 2003, while there were 16 sub-2:07's, and seven sub-2:06's.  All of these totals set records.

The story was similar on the women' side, except at the very top end.  There were 1353 performances below 2:50, up 16% from the previous record of 1164 set in 2006.  Truly elite performances (sub-2:32) hit 199, up 21% from the previous record, and sub-2:30 marks hit 136, also a record.

Performances, however, at the very highest end of marathon running for women did not break new ground  There were 32 sub-2:26's (the annual record is 38 set in 2003), just ten sub-2:24's (record is 20, 2003), and just two sub-2:22's (record is 9, 2006).  Only one woman, Irina Mikitenko of Germany, broke 2:20 (2:19:19), a mark she accomplished at Berlin.

The men's fastest time, of course, was Haile Gebrselassie's new world record of 2:03:59 also set at Berlin.

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