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Vol.:(0123456789)

Sports Medicine (2018) 48:2859–2867

https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-018-0991-4

ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE

Modeling theBenets ofCooperative Drafting: Is There anOptimal

Strategy toFacilitate aSub‑2‑Hour Marathon Performance?

WouterHoogkamer1 · KristineL.Snyder2· ChristopherJ.Arellano3

Published online: 8 October 2018

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Abstract

Background During a race, competing cyclists often cooperate by alternating between leading and drafting positions. This

approach allows them to maximize velocity by using the energy saved while drafting, a technique to reduce the overall drag

by exploiting the leader’s slipstream. We have argued that a similar cooperative drafting approach could beneﬁt elite marathon

runners in their quest for the sub-2-hour marathon.

Objective Our aim was to model the eﬀects of various cooperative drafting scenarios on marathon performance by applying

the critical velocity concept for intermittent high-intensity running.

Methods We used the physiological characteristics of the world’s most elite long-distance runners and mathematically simu-

lated the depletion and recovery of their distance capacity when running above and below their critical velocity throughout

a marathon.

Results Our simulations showed that with four of the most elite runners in the world, a 2:00:48 (h:min:s) marathon is pos-

sible, a whopping 2min faster than the current world record. We also explored the possibility of a sub-2-hour marathon

using multiple runners with the physiological characteristics of Eliud Kipchoge, arguably the best marathon runner of our

time. We found that a team of eight Kipchoge-like runners could break the sub-2-hour marathon barrier.

Conclusion In the context of cooperative drafting, we show that the best team strategy for improving marathon performance

time can be optimized using a mathematical model that is based on the physiological characteristics of each athlete.

Key Points

We revisit the possibility of a sub-2-hour marathon by

incorporating the critical velocity concept to model the

eﬀects of intermittent high-intensity running on mara-

thon performance.

With a cooperative drafting approach, four of the most

elite runners in the world could run a 2:00:48 (h:min:s)

marathon, 2min faster than the current world record.

We explored the possibility of a sub-2-hour marathon

using more runners and our model simulations predict

that a team of eight runners with the physiological char-

acteristics of Eliud Kipchoge could break the sub-2-hour

marathon barrier.

Electronic supplementary material The online version of this

article (https ://doi.org/10.1007/s4027 9-018-0991-4) contains

supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

* Wouter Hoogkamer

wouter.hoogkamer@colorado.edu

1 Locomotion Lab, Department ofIntegrative Physiology,

University ofColorado, Boulder, 354 UCB, Boulder,

CO80309-0354, USA

2 Department ofMathematics andStatistics, Swenson College

ofScience andEngineering, University ofMinnesota,

Duluth, 104 Solon Campus Center, Duluth, MN55812, USA

3 Department ofHealth andHuman Performance, University

ofHouston, 3875 Holman St, Houston, TX77204-6015,

USA

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