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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

The Math of a Marathon

November 4, 2011 —
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This Sunday, over 40,000 runners will take part in the New York City Marathon. A great amount of preparation and planning goes into accommodating such a large group of athletes, as well as the fans cheering on the sidelines. An article in The New York Times described the numbers behind planning such a huge race, so we decided to plug those numbers into Wolfram|Alpha and see what interesting things we could compute.

According to the article, over 43,000 athletes took part in the 26.2-mile race last year. Typing “running 26.2 miles” into Wolfram|Alpha allows you to enter your pace, gender, and body weight, then receive data based on your inputs, such as calories burned and oxygen consumed.

running 26.2 miles

To help energize and hydrate the runners before the race begins, 42,000 Power Bars, 90,000 bottles of water, and around 45,000 cups of coffee will be provided. This is in addition to the 62,370 gallons of water and 32,040 gallons of Gatorade that will be handed out to runners on the course. Add all that liquid together and you get 97,222 gallons. That is equivalent to roughly 1/5 the volume of a Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter aircraft.

62,370 gallons + 32,040 gallons + 45,000 cups

Once the race is over, runners can even use Wolfram|Alpha to compare their performances with medal-winning times from past Olympic Games.

Olympic gold medal winners men's marathon

Comparing the fastest men’s time at the NYC Marathon—set by Tesfaye Jifar in 2001—you see that his time of 2:07:43 is better than every Olympic time except Samuel Wansiru’s 2008 time of 2:06:32.

On the women’s side, Margaret Okayo’s 2003 NYC Marathon record time of 2:22:31 is faster than every Olympic gold medal marathon time.

Good luck to everyone planning on running this Sunday! It looks like the weather is going to be perfect for a marathon!

Weather on Sunday in the Big Apple

1 Comment

Two of my favorite topics (running and data) all in one place!

Posted by Beth November 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm