Elite Feet

How Fast Can Humans Run?

Women running fast on a track

The average human walking speed is in the neighborhood of 3 mph (4.8 km/h). How fast do you think you could run at a full sprint? 10 mph? 15 mph? What speed could you average over 26.2 miles?

Below, I have taken several men's and women's world records and calculated the runners' average speed. Usain Bolt has averaged over 23 miles per hour in both the 100 and 200 meter events.

Men's World Records Translated Into Average Speeds

Event Record Athlete mph ft/s km/h m/s
60 m (indoor) 6.39 s Maurice Green 21.00 30.81 33.80 9.39
100 m 9.58 s Usain Bolt 23.35 34.25 37.58 10.44
200 m 19.19 s Usain Bolt 23.31 34.19 37.52 10.42
400 m 43.18 s Michael Johnson 20.71 30.38 33.34 9.26
800 m 1:41.11 Wilson Kipketer 17.69 25.95 28.48 7.91
1000 m 2:11.96 Noah Ngeny 16.96 24.87 27.29 7.58
1500 m 3:26.00 Hicham El Geerrouj 16.28 23.88 26.21 7.28
Mile 3:43.13 Hicham El Geerrouj 16.13 23.65 25.96 7.21
5000 m 12:37.35 Kenenisa Bekele 14.76 21.65 23.76 6.60
10000 m 26:17.53 Kenenisa Bekele 14.18 20.80 22.82 6.34
Half Marathon 58:23 Zersenay Tadese 13.47 19.76 21.68 6.02
Marathon 2:03:59 Haile Gebrselassie 12.69 18.61 20.42 5.67
110 m hurdles 12.87 s Dayron Robles 19.10 28.02 30.74 8.54
400 m hurdles 46.78 s Kevin Young 19.13 28.05 30.78 8.55
4x100 m relay 37.10 s Nesta Carter,
Michael Frater,
Usain Bolt,
Asafa Powell
24.12 35.37 38.81 10.78
4x200 m relay 1:18.68 Michael Marsh,
Leroy Burrell,
Floyd Heard,
Carl Lewis
22.75 33.37 36.61 10.17
4x400 m relay 2:54.29 Andrew Valmon,
Quincy Watts,
Butch Reynolds,
Michael Johnson
20.54 30.12 33.05 9.18
4x800 m relay 7:02.43 Joseph Mutua,
William Yiampoy,
Ismael Kombich,
Wilfred Bungei
16.96 24.87 27.29 7.58

Women's World Records Translated Into Average Speeds

Event Record Athlete mph ft/s km/h m/s
60 m (indoor) 6.92 Irina Privalova 19.39 28.44 31.21 8.67
100 m 10.49 s Florence Griffith Joyner 21.32 31.27 34.31 9.53
200 m 21.34 s Florence Griffith Joyner 20.96 30.74 33.73 9.37
400 m 47.60 s Marita Koch 18.79 27.60 30.24 8.40
800 m 1:53.28 Jarmila Kratochvílová 15.79 23.16 25.42 7.06
1000 m 2:28.98 Svetlana Masterkova 15.01 22.01 24.16 6.71
1500 m 3:50.46 Qu Yunxia 14.56 21.36 23.44 6.51
Mile 4:12.56 Svetlana Masterkova 14.25 20.90 22.93 6.37
5000 m 14:11.15 Tirunesh Dibaba 13.13 19.26 21.13 5.87
10000 m 29:31.78 Wang Junxia 12.62 18.50 20.30 5.64
Half Marathon 1:06:25 Lornah Kiplagat 11.83 17.36 19.04 5.29
Marathon 2:15:25 Paula Radcliffe 11.61 17.03 18.68 5.19
100 m hurdles 12.21 s Yordanka Donkova 18.32 26.87 29.48 8.19
400 m hurdles 52.34 s Yuliya Pechonkina 17.09 25.07 27.50 7.64
4x100 m relay 41.37 s Silke Gladisch,
Sabine Rieger,
Ingrid Auerswald,
Marlies Göhr
21.63 31.73 34.81 9.67
4x200 m relay 1:27.46 LaTasha Jenkins,
LaTasha Colander-
Richardson,
Nanceen Perry,
Marion Jones
20.45 29.99 32.90 9.14
4x400 m relay 3:15.17 Tatyana Ledovskaya,
Olga Nazarova,
Mariya Pinigina,
Olga Bryzgina
18.34 26.90 29.52 8.20
4x800 m relay 7:50.17 Nadezhda Olizarenko,
Lyubov Gurina,
Lyudmila Borisova,
Irina Podyalovskaya
15.23 22.34 24.52 6.81

It's interesting to note that the 60 meter race has a slower average speed for both men and women than the 100 meter race. This must be because accelerating at the start of a race takes some time.

These world records were last updated on May 5, 2010.