Crowding at the Front of the Marathon Packs

Sanjib Sabhapandit 1, Satya N. Majumdar 1, S. Redner 2

Journal of statistical mechanics-theory and experiment (2008) L03001

We study the crowding of near-extreme events in the time gaps between successive finishers in major international marathons. Naively, one might expect these gaps to become progressively larger for better-placing finishers. While such an increase does indeed occur from the middle of the finishing pack down to approximately 20th place, the gaps saturate for the first 10-20 finishers. We give a probabilistic account of this feature. However, the data suggests that the gaps have a weak maximum around the 10th place, a feature that seems to have a sociological origin.

  • 1. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS),
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud
  • 2. Center for Polymer Studies (CPS),
    Boston University