Thursday, 20 October 2016

What can data tell us about the Dublin City Marathon

Seven things data can tell us about the Dublin City Marathon: Prof Barry Smyth of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics

Prof Barry Smyth of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics is a data scientist and marathon runner. He has just started this blog called Running with Data which looks at what data can tell us about endurance running. He’s a prolific writer, an excellent speaker and is adding posts all the time.

So as runners prepare to pound the Dublin pavements for the 37th time on October 31st, here are seven things the data can tell us about the Dublin City Marathon.

1. Participation is rocketing. There were 7,000 finishers in 2000 which nearly doubled to 13,000 in 2015 and this year, the Dublin City Marathon was sold out for the first time with a record 19,500 participants.

2. Where are the women? 46% of finishers in 2000 were female. By 2015 that proportion had fallen to just 30%

3. Older runners rule! Last year, over half of the finishers were over the age of 40!

4. Starting too fast can ruin your race. About a third of Dublin runners start out too fast and this adds tens of minutes to the finish times as well as greatly increasing the likelihood that they will hit the wall.

5. Although overall only 5% of people hit the dreaded wall, the likelihood of hitting the wall is much higher for those finishing over 4.5 hours. For example 20% of men who finish at at 5 hours hit the wall. In general men hit the wall a lot more often than women.

6. They’re getting faster. Last year, 40% of finishers completed the course in under four hours. Only a quarter of runners managed the same feat in 2000.

7. In fact, the average finishing time has fallen from 305 minutes in 2000 to just over 255 minutes in 2015, a difference of an astonishing 50 minutes. Way to go Dublin! Although, there has been a big drop in the number of marathon walkers though so let’s not get carried away.