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J Sports Sci. 2003 May;21(5):429-38.

British running performances in the eighteenth century.

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Department of Sport Science, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH, UK.


Our aims were to improve our understanding of human performance before 1850 and to put nineteenth- and twentieth-century performances into a broader historical context. Consequently, 536 foot-races performed in Britain in the 'long' eighteenth century were identified, 53 of which were analysed in detail. The best performances at the end of the eighteenth century were compared with those at the end of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The data for the nineteenth century were marginally better than those for the eighteenth century up to 20 nm, but beyond that Thomas Carlisle's time, set in about 1740, of 2 hours for 21 miles was outstanding. Current records are shown to be better than earlier records at all distances from 5 km up to the marathon, the superiority being most pronounced from 15 km upwards.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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