Fastest time possible for running 100 m?

Is there a way to pinpoint the fastest possible time that the 100 meter sprint can be run by a human being?

According to Wikipedia, the fastest time for the 100 meter sprint:

2009 - Usain Bolt ran 9.58 sec. with a wind of 0.9 m/s in Berlin.

This is currently the world’s record.

Since I don’t want to deal with the wind, like friction in high school physics, let’s ignore it.

The record before this was 9.69 sec. If we go back 10 record times, it is at 9.85 secs.

So, for this particular record, Bolt has shaved .27 seconds off the once record time of 9.85 secs.

How much lower can it go? There must be a speed which cannot be surpassed, but what is it, and is there any way to take human physiological factors, put them in an equation of some sort, and get the absolute record that will eventually be set and never surpassed?

I think 9.58 will be beat. Bolt didn’t sprint through the tape when he ran his amazing race, so he could have shaved more time off the 9.58 if he just ran through the finish line. But how much?
I’m also interested in this question for the mile. The current world record in the mile is 3:43.13, set by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco on July 7, 1999. That’s 11.5 years now, a pretty significant length of time. Perhaps a wall has been defined, but the 4 minute mile was a mental barrier that wasn’t cracked for years. Before Bannister broke the 4 minute mile, the longest-standing world record in the mile was 4:01.4, set by Gunder Haegg of Sweden on July 17, 1945. It stood for eight years, 293 days before Bannister broke it.

Is 3:43.13 the lowest humans can go?

The Science Of Sports.

Explains it as well as anyone can.

Bolt himself reckons he could do it in 9.4. But whether that means “9.4x” (as in <9.50) or 9.40, I don’t know.

On a closely related issue, I’ve been wondering when the 2 hour mark will be broken in the marathon. Assuming record times of the past 60 years scale linearly, you will get a date around 2040 or 2050, but if it isn’t linear (and I doubt that it is), all bets are off. On the other hand all it takes is a Perfect Storm of optimal conditions and an athlete running the race of his life.

I think the answer is somewhere around 300 nanoseconds. Someone can probably give a more precise answer.

I think we have pretty much hit the mark and it is just going to get down to more precise timing.

I think that the mile is not a good example, because it’s not run that often in international competition. Maybe if you just looked at the American record in the mile, you would see a more normal progression.

You should check out The Perfection Point by John Brenkus. Has a lot of great info on the questions you are curious about.

~3 * 10^8 m/s.

Hey, it’s only a matter of time before humans evolve into incorporeal beings of pure energy. I’m thinking long-term here.

As Mgalindo13 said, John Brenkus of Sport Science has tackled this issue. He says 8.99 is the perfection point for the 100 m.

Thanks for the link. It’s an excellent place to start.

You are probably right about the mile being a bad example. But it does not have a normal progression. There was a long wait between 4:01 and breaking the 4 minute mile. I stumbled on a website that has a formula for predictions, but I lost it. I will try to find it again and repost.

Hasn’t it been the case that at least some 200m world record holders have run half of their race more quickly than the 100m world record holder of that time?

If it’s any half other than the first half, it doesn’t matter, because starting is the slowest part of the race.

Ah yeah, I remember Bob Costas (or some NBC guy) effusing over the 2nd 100m split time for Michael Johnson’s record 200m win in 1996. That inspired a 150m match race with the 100m champ Donavan Bailey which Johnson lost badly (pulled up lame, possibly to save face).

Here is the race if you are curious to see it.

I’m pretty sure it was confirmed later that Michael Johnson was injured, though.

RE: mile

I realise this is comparing apples and oranges, but may be of some slight interest anyhow - I know of some fell runners who have done a mile in around 3 mins 30 secs, (3:27 is unofficial record, I think) but of course they are massively assisted by steep slopes and gravity (and utter nutball-ness too :slight_smile: ) in their races.

The biggest unknown is drugs technology.

It’s pretty safe to assume that all record holders for the past 25 years have used performance enhancing drugs at some stag in their careers, so the improvements in recent times have been as much due to medical science as enhanced training and footwear.

And the drugs just keep improving. At the moment the primarily enhance muscle growth and healing, with only a few experimental treatments able to modify muscle structure. However it’s only a matter of time before we do start seeing drugs that can alter muscle structure and innervation.

So while 9.9 may be the theoretical limit for a “physiologically perfect” human, I would be astounded if it were not surpassed very rapidly and by a considerable margin.

Check out post #5. You missed the record by 1:46:00.

I seem to remember that Usain Bolt set the “fastest time a human has run 100m in (with a running start)” in the 4x100 final in Beijing in 2008.