Ely, M. R., Cheuvront, S. N., & Montain, S. J. (2007). Neither cloud cover nor low solar loads are associated with fast marathon performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 39, 2029-2035.

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"There exists a popular notion that cloud cover and/or low solar radiation increase the likelihood of running a fast marathon. This information can be found in anecdotal reports, authoritative reference books for runners, and scientific publications alike, but it lacks a comprehensive review". The objectives of this study were 1) to determine whether the presence of cloud cover or low solar load were associated with fast marathons, 2) to describe the weather conditions during fast marathons, and 3) to determine whether the fastest men's and women's marathons were run in similar conditions. Finishing times and weather conditions were obtained for the winning performances of seven North American marathons, the 10 all-time fastest marathon times, world record marathons, and Olympic marathons for men and women.

Cloud cover, a restricted ambient temperature range, and solar load conditions were not associated with fast performances. The common factor among fast performances was low temperature (10.6-12.8C for males and 11.6-13.6C for females). In addition, neither cloud cover nor solar load were associated with top-10 or WR performances, because they all occurred in cloud cover and solar load conditions.

Implication. Low ambient temperatures (<13) was the most salient climatic factor associated with fast marathon runs.

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