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 1:40.91 David Rudisha 17.73 26.01 28.54 7.93
1,000 m 2:11.96 Noah Ngeny 16.96 24.87 27.29 7.58
1,500 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
5,000 m 12:37.35 Kenenisa Bekele 14.76 21.65 23.76 6.60
10,000 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 2:02:57 Dennis Kipruto Kimetto 12.79 18.77 20.59 5.72
110 m hurdles 12.80 s Aries Merritt 19.22 28.19 30.94 8.59
400 m hurdles 46.78 s Kevin Young 19.13 28.05 30.78 8.55
4×100 m relay 36.84 s Nesta Carter,
Michael Frater,
Yohan Blake,
Usain Bolt
24.12 35.37 38.81 10.78
4×200 m relay 1:18.63 Nickel Ashmeade,
Warren Weir,
Jermaine Brown,
Yohan Blake
22.76 33.38 36.63 10.17
4×400 m relay 2:54.29 Andrew Valmon,
Quincy Watts,
Butch Reynolds,
Michael Johnson
20.54 30.12 33.05 9.18
4×800 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
1,000 m 2:28.98 Svetlana Masterkova 15.01 22.01 24.16 6.71
1,500 m 3:50.07 Genzebe Dibaba 14.58 21.39 23.47 6.52
Mile 4:12.56 Svetlana Masterkova 14.25 20.90 22.93 6.37
5,000 m 14:11.15 Tirunesh Dibaba 13.13 19.26 21.13 5.87
10,000 m 29:31.78 Wang Junxia 12.62 18.50 20.30 5.64
Half Marathon 1:05:09 Florence Kiplagat 12.07 17.71 19.43 5.40
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
4×100 m relay 40.82 s Tianna Madison,
Allyson Felix,
Bianca Knight,
Carmelita Jeter
21.92 32.15 35.28 9.80
4×200 m relay 1:27.46 LaTasha Jenkins,
LaTasha Colander-
Richardson,
Nanceen Perry,
Marion Jones
20.45 29.99 32.90 9.14
4×400 m relay 3:15.17 Tatyana Ledovskaya,
Olga Nazarova,
Mariya Pinigina,
Olga Bryzgina
18.34 26.90 29.52 8.20
4×800 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 October 30, 2015.