Why are people getting so much faster, but not horses?

I spent a few days last week at Kent Presents (which was AMAZING), and was talking to one of the organizers, Ben Rosen. He told me that he’d written a piece years ago, on the speeds of horses versus humans, that I might enjoy. He was right. Here’s horse times in races from 1950 to 2010:


Here’s men’s mile times from 1950 to 2010:

Scan 4

What’s the deal here? I did a quick google search to see if this question had been settled, and couldn’t find anything definitive. Is it diet? Cheating? The fact that we can comprehend the need to do better than the past? Something else?

I’m counting on one of you to know the answer.


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