How Fast can Usain bolt run?

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How fast can Usain bolt run?

Contrary to popular opinion, Usain Bolt cannot fly. However, he does run extremely fast.

In 2009 Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt set the world record in the 100-meter sprint at 9.58 seconds. For those of us more accustomed to sitting than sprinting, to translate this feat into terms of speed is to simply underscore the stunning nature of Bolt’s performance.

Speed is the rate at which an object (or person) moves through time. It is represented mathematically as speed = d/t (in which d is distance and t is time). That means that Bolt’s speed during his world-record run was 10.44 meters per second.

Since many people are more familiar with automobiles and speed limits, it might be more useful to think of this in terms of kilometers per hour or miles per hour: 37.58 or 23.35, respectively. That’s faster than the estimated average traffic speed for the U.S. cities of Boston, New York City, and San Francisco. Even more astounding is the fact that Bolt started from a speed of zero and then had to accelerate, which means that his top speed actually was faster.

In 2011 Belgian scientists used lasers to measure Bolt’s performance in the different stages of a 100-meter race held in September that year. They found that, 67.13 meters into the race, Bolt reached a top speed of 43.99 kilometers per hour (27.33 miles per hour). He finished with a time of 9.76 seconds in that race, but research has suggested that, with his body type, he probably shouldn’t even be competitive at that distance.

From a biomechanical perspective, the fastest sprinters are relatively short, and their muscles are loaded with fast-twitch fibers for rapid acceleration. The elite sprinter is a compact athlete, not a tall and lean one. Given his size—literally head and shoulders above the other competitors—Bolt should be last off the blocks and last across the finish line. And yet he is the fastest man in the world.

The questions remains: How fast can Usain bolt run?

Future Speeds

According to Fox News, humans—who top out at roughly 23 mph—may one day be able to reach phenomenal speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.

That study showed that speed is based more on contracting muscle fibers than it is negated by sheer force of running.

If the muscle fibers that get feet off the ground are maximized, top speeds of 40 miles per hour could be reached.

Although it’s interesting to know how quickly humans may one day run, what about the current crop of top runners?

Bolt may have shown his best efforts at the 2008 Beijing Games with a 100-meter time of 9.69 seconds, but he crushed that time at the 2009 World Championships.

There, he set two world records with a 100-meter time of 9.58 and a 200-meter time of 19.19. From there, we can gauge how fast truly fast can be.

Lightning Bolt 

From the start, Fox News reports that Bolt reaches a speed of 28 mph. The BBC breaks down how he reaches this speed:

Bolt’s 2009 world record time:

Bolt covered the course from a standing start at 23.35 miles per hour. However, he dashed from the 60m to the 80m mark in 1.61 seconds, approximately 27.79 mph.

If he could maintain that speed over the whole 100m, with a flying start, he would record a time of 8.05 seconds.

Though we see that he does indeed conform to the human limits of about 23 miles per hour, his top speed is mind-boggling.

Live Science has some great comparisons with animals’ speed.

  • Bolt ran 100 meters in 9.58 seconds, compared with the 5.8 seconds it would take a cheetah to cover that same distance.
  • Bolt ran 200 meters in 19.19 seconds, while a cheetah could sprint that distance in 6.9 seconds, a Black Caviar racehorse would gallop the same in 9.98 seconds, and a greyhound in 11.2 seconds.

As you can see, even our best just isn’t good enough.

That hardly negates the fact my jaw will be firmly placed on the ground after what is sure to be some amazing sprints from Usain Bolt and his swift colleagues.

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