Male and female Ethiopian and Kenyan runners are the fastest and the youngest in both half and full marathon
Nikolaidis, Pantelis T.
Zingg, Matthias A.
Rüst, Christoph A.
MetadataShow full item record
In major marathon races such as the ‘World Marathon Majors’, female and male East African runners particularly from Ethiopia and Kenya are the fastest. However, whether this trend appears for female and male Ethiopians and Kenyans at recreational level runners (i.e. races at national level) and in shorter road races (e.g. in half-marathon races) has not been studied yet. Thus, the aim of the present study was to examine differences in the performance and the age of female and male runners from East Africa (i.e. Ethiopians and Kenyans) between half- and full marathons. Data from 508,108 athletes (125,894 female and 328,430 male half-marathoners and 10,205 female and 43,489 male marathoners) originating from 126 countries and competing between 1999 and 2014 in all road-based half-marathons and marathons held in one country (Switzerland) were analysed using Chi square (χ2 ) tests, mixed-effects regression analyses and one-way analyses of variance. In half-marathons, 48 women (0.038 %) and 63 men (0.019 %) were from Ethiopia and 80 women (0.063 %) and 134 men (0.040 %) from Kenya. In marathons, three women (0.029 %) and 15 men (0.034 %) were from Ethiopia and two women (0.019 %) and 33 men (0.075 %) from Kenya. There was no statistically significant association between the nationality of East Africans and the format of a race. In both women and men, the fastest race times in half-marathons and marathons were achieved by East African runners (p < 0.001). Ethiopian and Kenyan runners were the youngest in both sexes and formats of race (p < 0.001). In summary, women and men from Ethiopia and Kenya, despite they accounted for <0.1 % in half-marathons and marathons, achieved the fastest race times and were the youngest in both half-marathons and marathons. These findings confirmed in the case of half-marathon the trend previously observed in marathon races for a better performance and a younger age in East African runners from Ethiopia and Kenya.