The Fastest a Human Can Run

One of the most amazing races I have ever seen was Usain Bolt’s gold medal 100m race at the 2008 Olympic Games. I could not believe that he ran 9.69 seconds when it looked like he was jogging across the finish line. Even more impressive was his 9.58 second run a year later in 2009 World Championships. It has been estimated that he reached a speed of 28 miles per hour during this race. Incredible! I’m really not sure how a human could run faster than that.

However, a new study suggests that humans have the ability to run even faster. According to the study, the main limit to human speed is how quickly leg muscles can pick the feet off of the ground. By projecting the outer limits of how fast muscle fibers can work, researchers calculated that humans could reach speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour. Of course, that’s still not as fast as the top speed of these animals (probably helps that they all have four legs though!):

  • Cheetah: 70 mph
  • Pronghorn Antelope 61 mph
  • Wildebeest 50 mph
  • Lion 50 mph
  • Thomson’s Gazelle 50 mph
  • Quarter Horse 47.5 mph
  • Elk 45 mph

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