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21.285 km in one hour. That’s what legendary Ethiopian distance ace Haile Gebrselassie managed at the Ostrava Golden Spike meet today. Full details here

This is roughly equivalent to an average velocity of 4:32 per mile, 13.23 MPH, 5.91 meters per second, or 354.8 meters per minute. I could add furlongs per fortnight if you’re really interested, but I’ll pass for now. Geb also broke the world 20k record en route.

Any way you slice it, that’s one hell of an effective and efficient aerobic system.


  1. #1 Karl
    June 27, 2007

    How about giving us a comparison. His distance, about 12.77 miles, is less than half a marathon. What’s the world record for a marathon? Isn’t it about 2:05? Wouldn’t people who can do that be able to run more than 12.77 miles in one hour if they knew they were only going to run for one hour? It sounds like this one hour race must not be a very often contested or popular race.

  2. #2 RyanG
    June 27, 2007

    His distance was actually 13.23 miles, more than half a marathon.

    The world record for the half marathon (21.0775km) is 58:35, an average speed of 21.608km/h. This is, admittedly, slightly faster than Gebrselassie just ran. But Geb kept going that extra minute and a half.

  3. #3 Karl
    June 28, 2007

    I was relying on this article for the distance:

    By Karel Janicek

    3:27 p.m. June 27, 2007

    OSTRAVA, Czech Republic � Haile Gebrselassie set two world records in the rarely contested 1-hour event Wednesday, eclipsing the mark for the time-limited race and adding another at 20,000 meters along the way.
    In both events, Gebrselassie broke the 16-year-old records of Mexico’s Arturo Barrios set in La Fleche, France. The Ethiopian completed 21.285 meters (12.77 miles)

    That’s a direct copy of the article. I see now that in addition to getting the conversion wrong, the author has no idea what he’s talking about – he has the distance as meters. Oh, but he’s in Europe. So his 21.285m is what we would write as 21,285m which is 21.285km. Is that it?

    I now used a conversion calculator and got your number. I have a better idea of why you are impressed.

  4. #4 JimFiore
    June 28, 2007

    So we discover that Karel and the AP have a hard time with metric/English conversions. You’ll note that I listed a velocity of 13.23 MPH, so as it was a race of one hour duration…

    One thing that strikes me is the measure of “tempo pace” (AKA velocity at lactate threshold) so beloved of exercise physiologists and sometimes pegged as “the pace one could just sustain for an hour” (Daniels, et al.). This is the ultimate test for tempo pace. Having a T pace of 4:32 per mile is just mind boggling to me. On the one hand I know what it’s like to run T pace, how it feels and evolves over time. On the other hand, I know what it’s like to move at approximately 34 seconds per 200 meters (4:32 equivalent). Wrapping my mind around the fact that they are the same for him is difficult.

  5. #5 Drugmonkey
    June 28, 2007

    Jim: I live just off a marathon course and we love to watch the race every year. One of the most salient observations is the completely different pace and style between the top 10 or so men and the “rest”. Even the “rest” who are very close to the top guys in mid-late race. It looks like a totally different gait. Have you ever seen a greyhound run? It’s sort-of like comparing a greyhound gait to normal dog’s gait.
    While you may know what if feels like to cover 200m at the same rate it is very likely that you don’t actually move anything like these guys.

    and anyway, how do we know these guys aren’t doped to the gills like French schoolchildren?

  6. #6 Carsten S
    June 28, 2007

    For metric runners let me add that it was 2:49/km. Which is slightly faster then my 1000m PB. Today I did 6x1000m at ~3:!5, and that was hard enough.

    P.S.: Google says, ((21 285 m) / (1 hour)) / ((1 furlong) / (1 fortnight)) = 35 551.1811

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