A New Fastest Marathon Time

09/27/2011 08:14 am ET | Updated Nov 27, 2011

By Hanna Brooks Olsen for

And you thought your nine-minute mile was impressive.

Yesterday, a man named Patrick Makau, from Kenya, put all of our treadmill times to shame, as he shaved 21 seconds off the record for a marathon. Makau, age 26, who was running the Berlin Marathon in Germany on Sunday, ran the 26.2-mile course in two hours, three minutes, and 38 seconds, NPR reported Monday morning.

That’s an average mile time of about about four minutes, 40 seconds. Which is truly, truly unbelievable.

Makau’s time beat the previous record, set by Haile Gebrselassie, also in Berlin.

This feat of outrageous physical endurance and strength is making scientists question how quickly a marathon can possibly be run. Because, of course, the human body has limits. Scientists have even debated whether or not running that great a distance may do temporary (or long-term) damage to the heart.

And yet, every few years, someone comes along and sets a new record, substantially cutting down on the time it took the previous runner. In the last 100 years, humans have managed to slice about 37 minutes off of the record.

Two minutes have been cut in the last 10 years alone.

In April of this year, the BBC addressed the big question: Could a human ever run a marathon in less than two hours? The consensus at the time seemed to be that it may be possible–but would take another 20 years or more to see it done.

But at this rate, it's not that outrageous to believe we could see the speed barrier broken in our lifetime.

Now let's all get back to our cute little 5Ks.

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