6 Decades of Sub-3 Marathons

Since the 2020s rolled in, 4 runners have completed a sub-3 hour marathon in their 6th decade. 37 others have a chance. Here's how they train and race.

6DS3: The Six-Decade Sub-3 Club

How a select group of runners has succeeded in running sub 3-hour marathons in every decade from the 1970s to the 2020's.


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How Much Do Lifetime Marathoners Slow With Age?

A few tough men—and one woman—have run a marathon under 3 hours in every one of the five decade since the ’70s. Now that the 2020s have rolled around, some of them are still fit and fast enough to aim for their 6th decade sub-3. In our first article about the 6DS3 group, we introduced a few of them, and in our second and third articles shared their secrets to longevity and favorite marathon test workouts. In the final article we told how Antonio Arreola and Steve Schmidt became the first runners to accomplish the 6-decade feat on January 19 in Houston.

Just as I was finishing up the final articles about the marathoners trying to achieve 6 Decades Sub 3, I was contacted by a respected French endurance physiologist, Romuald Lepers, PhD. He said he was interested in learning more about the 6DS3 group. I gave him a little data, and he promptly churned out several fascinating analyses.

Of most interest: The runners recorded their personal records at an average age of 28.6 years (and an impressively fast time of 2:23:19). They then achieved their Fifth Decade Sub 3 after another 26 years. From their PR time to their Fifth Decade time, they slowed down at an average rate of 6.5% per year.

Lepers was a new digital friend for me. I wondered if he were an endurance athlete himself. It didn’t take long to discover that he has competed at a high level in triathlon, especially Alpine Triathlons. I sent him an email asking what drew him to the 6DS3 runners. He said it was their many years of consistent training and racing.

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