Could Lance Armstrong compete in a marathon?

I think this is the textbook example of where a necropost is encouraged in GQ: A thread gathered some interest, but didn’t have a definitive answer, but some time later, new information became available such that there was a definitive answer.

For comparison, what’s a typical marathon time for an everyday Joe who decides to run a marathon, and trains part-time for, say, a year? Brain Wreck, maybe?

My brother is a pretty good runner, has run for years. At age 40 (a bit older than Lance) he decided to run a marathon and has managed to get a personal best time of around 3:15. He’s a very good athlete but has had a few injuries, but he never expects to break 3:00.

A 3:00 marathon, while not anywhere near world class, is a damn fine time.

Like someone said, he doesn’t have the body type to be able to compete with the movers and the shakers of marathon-running… But, prior to the race I didn’t have a single doubt in my mind that he’d, not only, complete but get a very good time. Alas, I was right. Sub three hours is very good, even if it was shy of just a few seconds…
I guess his approx. 30% larger lungs (than the average person) helped him out…

That he experienced shin splints and tightness in his calfs (both newbie conditions from lack of miles) and the SI photo of him with horrible form would seem to indicate he isn’t very well trained for a marathon. I doubt his VO2 max was an issue here.

I am surprised that he did not have a faster time, even if he did not train that much for it. Somebody with his conditioning and will should have done better, I would think. He remarked that it was one of the toughest things he done.

Hell, I ran a 3:28 when I was in my mid-60s.

Anyway, kudos to him for even trying it!

IIRC the maximum distance he ever ran in training was 16 miles.

I don’t know if there is a statistic for this. My first marathon, with even less training than Lance, and about the same age was a 3:07, and there was no crowd screaming. I’m no world class athlete. My time was good, but not outrageous. There are those who crush 3 hours, and those that will never break 4 hours.

I guess I’m saying his time was very good, but not great. A naturally great runner would have crushed this time with his level of support. (For comparison, world class 10K runners sometimes break 2:10 their first time. That is almost 2 minutes a mile, or nearly 30%, faster than Lance ran.) Most people would not touch it. Many runners train for years trying in vain to qualify for Boston, which Lance did. Basically, you have a man in great shape, who is very tough, but not a natural runner, running a very good race.