Are you faster than a South American Tiger Beetle?

One of the fascinating things about being a human being on this planet is getting a sneak peek at what goes on in other people’s brains. My friend Paul is an aerospace engineer who builds satellites, makes fractal pancakes, and has a beachfront condo in his brain where all the cool numbers hang out when on vacation from calculating how to diverting some meteor on collision course with Coney Island.

I wrote a post last year about my first half ironman and included some stats about my times for each segment. I thought it would be interesting to share his analysis of exactly how fast (or in this case, slow) I really am:

Your swim was 1.2 miles and you did that in 42 minutes or 0.7 hours; therefore you swam at 1.7 mph.

  • Penguins swim at about 15 mph, so he would have done this distance in about 5 minutes
  • A dolphin would have really kicked your ass, swimming at 25 mph, finishing in 00:02:52
  • A balisk lizard in danger will run on two legs on top of the water, which sounds fast but is actually only 3.36 mph.  He would have finished in 21 minutes, 25 seconds.
  • You would have totally beat Besa (our friend’s golden retriever), who swims at 0.8 mph. Besa’s time is 1:30:00

Your bike was 56 miles and you did that in “just under 4 hours”; therefore you biked at 14 mph

  • Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby running at 37.5 mph, so she would have done this in 1:34:08
  • If this was the Kentucky Derby (1.25 miles) you would have finished in 5 minutes, 21 seconds as compared to Secretariat who finished in 1 minute 59 seconds
  • If you were biking next to a falcon (flies at 75 mph), he would have beat you by about 3 hours and 15 minutes (falcon’s time: 00:44:49)
  • If you were racing a swimming sea turtle, you would have beat him. His time is 4:40:01, swimming at 12 mph

Your run was 13.1 miles and you did that in 3 hours, 50 minutes or 3.83 hours, which is 3.42 mph

  • You would have tied with a South American Tiger Beetle, who also runs at 3.4 mph
  • A mouse would have beat you both, running at 7.5 mph. His time is 1:44:48
  • A scared kitty cat would have beat all of you (31 mph) if you kept her scared for 00:25:12
  • If you were racing against a hippo on land you’d lose (25 mph), but in the water he would only walk along the bottom at 2.5 mph, so you’d beat him by an hour and a half-ish . His time is 5:14:24

Other facts:

  • You covered a distance of 70.3 miles in 8:32:53, at an average speed of 8.24 mph
  • The Space Shuttle Atlantis would have covered this distance in about 14 seconds (17,580 mph)
  • The earth rotated by 127.9 degrees in this time
  • 4,045 babies were born in the US while you raced ;)

Apparently, the South American Tiger Beetle and I would have become good friends and the only competitor I can mock with confidence is the swimming sea turtle.

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3 Responses to Are you faster than a South American Tiger Beetle?

  1. Paul says:

    cool! Sadly, I can’t take credit for the pancakes in the picture–those were done by Nathan Shields (, my pancake mentor ;)

  2. Swim, bike, run … it is like a foreign language.
    But my body sweats vicariously thro yours and my suggestion should we need to take great distances together is that we go by space shuttle. On another note, I am the perfect friend since I remind you of the importance of sitting poolside with a cocktail in your hand.
    It all works.

  3. Wow! The warmest congratulations on completing that half ironman! What an accomplishment, even considering all those animals that would have beat you. =) And the statistics on babies being born while you raced – mind boggling! =) Sure puts the world into perspective.

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