The winner of the 100m sprint is often labelled the "fastest man on the planet". Often the average speed over the race is given, but the peak speed seems to reflect the description better. Is there any evidence to support the fastest man claim with respect to peak speed?

In particular, it seems at least plausible that, if still accelerating at the end of the 100m race, an athlete might reach a faster peak speed running the 200m.

  • My understanding of the race is that the runners peak speed is reached well before the 100m mark (about 60m apparently from the comments above) and from that point runners are actually losing speed. The fastest runners are the ones that can maintain a higher speed longer. When you see runners seem to 'catch up' to someone ahead of them it is a trick of perception, the leader is actually just slowing down faster. As to why the 200m average speeds can be faster than the 100m average, this is because the runner doesn't go from a stand still during the second half of the race. Ie., the runner ente – CodeSmith Aug 6 '12 at 18:40

At the 2009 Berlin World Championships, where Usain Bolt set his current world records for the 100m and 200m races, following data was recorded:



As can be seen in this data: the time between 60m - 80m was the shortest for all the runners.

  • For Usain Bolt it's: 20m in 1.61s, this translates to 12.4 m/s (~44.7 km/h, ~27.8 mph).



Here the athletes run the fastest between 50m - 100m

  • For Usain Bolt it's: 50m in 4.32s, this translates to 11.57 m/s (~41.6 km/h, ~25.9 mph).

Note: Usain Bolt ran the second leg (100m - 200m) in just 9.27s, which is considerably faster than his 100m world record of 9.58s. But that's not unusual, because for the second leg the athletes have a running start.

(100m in 9.27s means an average speed of 10.79 m/s)


  • 100m race: Usain Bolt was the fastest between 60m - 80m, with an average speed (in that segment) of 12.4 m/s (his overall average speed being 10.44 m/s)
  • 200m race: Usain Bolt was the fastest between 50m -100m, with an average speed (in that segment) of 11.57 m/s (his overall average speed being 10.42 m/s)


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