Quick and Dirty: Boston Marathon Winning Times (1897 to 2017)

I have an idea for what I think will be an interesting dataviz project regarding marathons. While searching for data to use in service of that idea, I thought it would be fun to make a quick line plot of winning times for the Boston Marathon. I found this Wikipedia page with the winning times for men and women for each year that the race has been run (since 1897 for men and 1966 for women, although women running the race were not "officially sanctioned" until 1972). From there, it was a relatively short journey (certainly not a marathon) to create this figure:

(click to enlarge)

It appears that the trends for both men and women have leveled off from initial periods of noticeable improvement in winning times. What is most interesting to me is this relative plateau of winning times happened around the same time for both men and women (around about 1985), notwithstanding the differing rates of improvement that preceded the plateau. Compared to the generally stately progress of men, it appears that women reached peak athletic potential in the marathon (at least for now) both quickly and precipitously once they were allowed to compete in the race.

I used ggplot to make this figure, surprising precisely no one. Even though this was a type of plot I have done several times before, I did learn how to add a caption and how to change the legend key labels. Here are those lines from the ggplot section of my code:

+   labs(caption = "(based on data from Wikipedia)")+
+   scale_color_discrete(labels=c("Men", "Women"))+


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