I’m interested in the idea of a sub-two-hour marathon. The most common view seems to be that, if this is ever achieved, it will happen on a flat course.
It might be said that any hills on a marathon circuit add to finish times. When I plod around a much shorter, hillier route, however, I’m always aware that it’s a lot faster/easier in one direction than the other. In other words, the order in which any hills occur has a big effect on the completion time.
In particular, hills with a small, but sustained, upward gradient are good to encounter near the start so that the descent to the finish line can be used to boost one’s overall speed, when fatigued, nearer the end.
Today’s invention is therefore a marathon course specifically tuned to enable record times.
It would be designed with a number of sustained, gentle hills in the first half and a sequence of steeper descents towards the end. The precise slopes and their spacing could be determined from a programme of treadmill tests.
Once the best course profile was determined, this could be searched for among the known routes through cities or created synthetically inside a stadium, using multiple loops of an undulating, temporary track.