Maths & the Marathon

In this summer of the European Championships and the Olympics, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to explore sport from an angle you might not have thought much about before: the Mathematics of Sport! In these talks, Dr Tom Crawford (a lecturer in Maths at the University of Oxford, and founder of the Tom Rocks Maths website) looks how maths can be used to model various features of two of the world’s most popular sports: football and athletics.

In this second talk, Tom looks at world records in the men’s marathon, and how we can make predictions about when records will be beaten, based on lines of best fit.

Extension activity

Using the data for the Women’s 100m world record over the past 100 years, find the following using the line of best fit function in Excel. You can download the data as an Excel file here.

  1. Predict when the world record will go below 10 seconds using:
    • A linear line of best fit?
    • A quadratic line of best fit?
    • A cubic line of best fit?
  2. Are any of these realistic? Can you think of how we could improve our predictions?

Share with us!

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All pupils who share their work with us by August 31 2021 will receive a certificate of participation in the summer school and will be entered into a prize draw! A £10 Amazon voucher will be awarded to each winning entry, selected randomly from all submissions. If you give us permission, your entry may be shared on Inspire Digital and our social media alongside your first name.