The Dartford Half Marathon (held yesterday) is , I believe, the oldest continuously run race in Kent, having started in 1977. As such, it is fascinating to compare the results of the 2011 race with past years, for example the 1981 race held 30 years ago this Summer.
The first surprise is that the number of runners is virtually the same (I thought the field would have grown considerably). In 2011, there were 693 finishers; in 1981 there were 715.
As expected, the composition of the field has changed markedly; female and veteran runners make up a far greater percentage of the finishers in 2011 than they did 30 years ago.
However, the really astonishing contrast is in the times at the front end of the field. In 2011, no runner finished in under 70 minutes, whereas in 1981 there were 19.
When you compare the numbers of runners who finished in under 80 minutes, the respective figures are even more extraordinary. 6 runners in 2011... compared with an incredible 166 in 1981.
I know it's only one race, but it does seem like another world.