Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Type

Honors Project


College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Lisa Stegall


Elite marathon runners have been pushing the limits of the human body, currently setting the world record near two hours. Notable factors while running include physiological, psychological, and strategic factors. Utilizing pack running may be a strategic factor to improve finish time and placement.


To explore the effect of individuals running in various size packs on their place and finish time in the Fukuoka Marathon. This race has seen some of the most talented runners in history, as the world record has been broken twice at the Fukuoka Marathon, in 1967 and 1981.


The data set of results was received through a collaboration with Dr. Michael Joyner, of the Mayo Clinic. Subjects running in the Fukuoka Marathon in Fukuoka, Japan were all male (n=240). Marathon race times and splits was analyzed from the year 1967 through 2014. Race splits were recorded every five kilometers and at the halfway point. Only runners who finished in the top five were used to record pack sizes. Pack sizes were counted for every top five finisher at each split and a mean pack size was calculated. Finish times were normalized to the winning time of each race. One-way ANOVA test was performed to quantify the effect of mean pack size on finish time.


No significant correlation was found between mean pack size and finish time for top five finishers (p=0.793). Regressions of mean pack size during the first half, second half, and entirety of the race yielded a slope of zero.


Although pack size and finish time were not significantly correlated, there were non- significant trends within the data that showed possible relation between place, size, and the duration of a pack that an individual ran with. Further studies should explore psychological benefits of racing in a pack, pack sizes outside of the top ten finishers, whether place within an individual pack is relevant to finish time, how individuals changing packs effects race dynamics, and if top finishers should be excluded from the pack pacing hypothesis.








Departmental Honors Project