The Pittsburgh Marathon Results are in... the Data

It’s that time of the year again: race season! Every year during the first weekend of May, thousands of runners from across the world take to the streets of Pittsburgh to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles through some of our favorite city neighborhoods. And this year, we thought it would be fun to predict the average finish time of the Pittsburgh marathoner. So, here it is:

The average finish time for the 2017 Pittsburgh Marathon will be among the fastest since 2009.  

So, what makes us so confident? We collected a number of different data points related to the Pittsburgh Marathon for each year since the Marathon resumed in 2009 after a 5-year hiatus. This included variables such as total number of finishers and average finish time in minutes. After this data was collected, a quick regression model was run, using average annual marathon finish times as a dependent variable and marathon-day temperature as a single predictor.


The correlation between the average temperature on race day and the average marathon finish times for each year is very strong at a .71 magnitude.* So what does this mean? It means that the average race-day temperature is a pretty good predictor of the average finish time.

Using the forecasted race-day temperature (54°), our model is predicting that average times will be among the fastest since the race restarted in 2009. In fact, we have the average marathon finisher clocking in at 259 minutes, or 4 hours and 33 minutes.

So, for all of you running the Pittsburgh Marathon (and Half Marathon) this year, good luck, be safe, and have fun. The proof of the power of predictive analytics is now in your hands – and feet!