|Santiago, Chile - at the foot of the Andes|
Having these advantages available to oneself in an endurance competition can be exhilarating. For example, when I travel to run low altitude marathons the difference in my pacing is approximately 20-25sec /mi. faster than what I could comfortably run here in Santa Fe. That's a lot over a 26mi race, and when the mile markers tick by I feel like I'm bending time as one does as they approach the speed of light. That time advantage is going to shrink for someone covering miles in a shorter interval, it may be larger for someone covering larger intervals. There are several variables in individuals and race conditions that can affect it one way or another.
Awesome brother blitzing through the streets of South America
I'm carrying forth on this topic so as to point to a recent performance that pulls this axiom to its extreme: My fleet-footed brother Sean has been living and running around La Paz, Bolivia for the last six months and he recently competed in two marathons, four weeks apart. The first being the Maraton por La Paz (elev. 11,975ft), the second being the Maraton de Santiago (Chile, elev. 1,706ft). The guy powered through to a 4hr 6min finish in La Paz, a strong showing by any measure. His finish in Santiago was 3hr 21min, forty-five minutes faster. 100sec a mile faster than on the altiplano of Bolivia. !!! Good Lord !!! And a 45min PR over a one month period, that has to be some kind of new alltime record. For crissakes, it doesn't feel right just typing those words in combination. For the purpose of visuals - on a track, a difference that large would amount to nearly lapping oneself at the end of each four-lap mile, twenty-six times in a row.
And that is my real world extreme example of what competing with or without oxygen looks like, as well as what competing with a maximum of red blood cells in an oxygen rich environment will do for your PR. My brother, ftw.
- First Annual Maraton por La Paz, Bolivia
View Maraton de Santiago, Chile in a larger map