Sub 2 hour marathon - how much drafting benefit?

How much drafting benefit do you think this setup gave Kipchoge? Car in front; phalanx of runners in front…

According to this article the reduction in air resistance was around 85% (on paper):

However it seems that at marathon running speed only 2% of the total energy is used to overcome air resistance:

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According to this website, when riding at 13mph, aero drag is about 40watts.

If it’s in a similar range for running, an 85% reduction in aero drag is a massive benefit - over 30 watts.

My take is this is what allowed him to run sub-2.

Compared to cycling, this seems very low. The referenced study was done in 1980 when aero studies were in their infancy, especially for athletics. My guess is the impact is bigger.

Around 4 minutes according to this

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Key paragraphs:

“Given that Kipchoge is capable of running at roughly about 300 W, the difference between undrafted and fully drafted scenarios is around 31W, meaning that he can probably devote an extra 10% of his effort to running faster in the latter case.”

“Because power output varies with the cube of velocity it is possible to estimate the amount of time saved in comparison with the undrafted runner. Our calculations suggest that the pacers saved Kipchoge about 4:09 compared with a solo runner, and the pacers and car combination saved him about 4:35.”

And the annoying thing is Nike is going to claim the reason he broke 2 is because of their shoe.

Well the shoes are also one of the reason he was able to broke 2

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Well he did 2:01:49 in a normal marathon and this course was designed to be flatter, with pace makers and not having to grab food and drinks off a table and a car pacing with him a laser etc

And he only went 2 mins faster … so I wouldn’t imagine the Pacers made huge difference but did help if not just mentally because he has other people to let down if he gets dropped haha

In a normal marathon, they still have pacers that usually last until around the 30km


Apparently the guy who ‘designed the aerodynamics’ would have rather done without the car - maybe there’s turbulences.

And surely there is some drafting in a normal marathon too, they do have pacers for a bit, and they might be running with competitors.

Never really looking into marathons so I didn’t know this

Are the Pacers top athletes running purely for an individual like his attempt today?

And heat, and CO2, and . . .

Supposedly they get paid, ie, it’s a job?

It was a Tesla so no heat or co2 coming out of a tail pipe.


My hate for cars has clouded my vision.

And it looked like an Audi.

Was it? At least in the image above it’s an Audi. I don’t know if he ran behind a Tesla during different parts of the attempt though (or of that image was from the actual attempt).

Anyway, I’d hope it was electric either way.

Based on the shot in the OP, it’s clearly an Audi for the lead car, and several others. Not sure on the car just ahead of the laser car?

Audi does have E-trons, but not familiar if they have an SUV like the laser car model?

Oh, maybe not? Previously it was a Tesla (I think) and I’m assuming they didn’t change it.

Ahead of the pack will be a zero-emission Audi E-tron car, the latest from the German manufacturer in the electric car market, which will beam green laser lights onto the tarmac to guide the runners to stick to the pace agreed on, which is two minutes and 50 seconds per kilometre.


Drafting or not, this was fucking amazing. It’ll happen in a race soon.