New Sheffield Hallam study explores the impact of temperature on finish times of London Marathon runners

As runners limber up for the London Marathon this weekend, new research has revealed how much temperature has an impact of finish times.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 4:45 pm
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 28: Runners compete during the Virgin London Marathon 2019 on April 28, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

A new study by Sheffield Hallam University finds there is a 2.8 per cent decrease in finish time for every 5C increase in temperature above 12C.

The research draws on data from the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon, which was the hottest in the race’s 37-year history.

It examines the impact of increased air temperature and thermal perception – the temperature ‘felt’ by the body – on the finish times of non-elite runners.

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It recommends that organisers use forecasting to mitigate the physical strain on completing a marathon in high temperatures.

The study is the first to investigate temperature in the context of the London Marathon and its findings are in accordance with previous research indicating that finish times are slower in hot conditions compared with cooler conditions.

With this year’s London Marathon being held in autumn rather than spring when the temperature is usually hotter, the current weather forecast is about 16C for this weekend.

Tim Vernon, senior research fellow and study lead at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “There’s nothing you can do about the weather other than being prepared ahead of time for what is forecast.

“In 2018 we had no idea what to expect physically and mentally and changed nothing on race day despite the forecast of hot weather.

“On Sunday, it’s unlikely to be too hot, but be prepared to alter your plans as the weather dictates, remember you’re there to enjoy the day.”