Letter: Racing seasons

From Mr Andrew Etchells

Sir: "Winter babies are born to be wild" (7 February), according to your account of a study in the journal Nature. You might also have said: "Winter babies are born to be distance runners." Some years ago Peter Matthews, the noted athletics commentator and statistician, wrote a piece for our magazine demonstrating that the all-time list of best Britons at 10,000m was, in its upper reaches, virtually the preserve of winter babies. No fewer than 11 of the the top 13 were born between October and February.

A runner's chances of success over 25 laps of the track appeared even better if he was born in the very depths of winter, between Christmas and the end of January: five out of the top six (and seven out of the 13) were born between 30 December and 25 January. The top three were born within a fortnight of each other, around the turn of the year.

A comparable list of the fastest Britons over 100m, by contrast, showed the top 12 were born between April and September, with the 13th-ranked sprinter letting the side down with a birthday on 13 October.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Etchells

Publisher, Runner's World

London, NW1

13 February