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The World’s Fastest Marathon Times

BY: Mark Dredge
21 April 2024

The first official marathon was run at the 1896 Athens Olympic Games, won by Spyridon Louis in a time of 2:58:50, though it was on a course that was only 40km, not the now-standard 42.2km or 26.2 miles

Women weren’t allowed to run in that race, though it didn’t stop Stamatis Rovithi who ran alongside the men and finishing (without an official time) a few hours after Louis. The first woman to have her marathon officially ratified as a world record was Scottish runner Dale Grieg, who in 1964 finished the Isle of Wight Marathon in 3:27:45.

Marathon times have tumbled since those early records. The current marathon world records are held by Kelvin Kiptum (2:00:35) and Tigst Assefa (2:11:53). Here are the top 20 fastest marathons of all time registered on record-eligible courses. 

All results accurate as of 21 April 2024. 

The Fastest Women’s Marathons Of All Time 

12:11:53Tigst Assefa (ETH)Berlin 2023
22:13:44Sifan Hassan (NED)Chicago 2023
32:14:04Brigid Kosgei (KEN)Chicago 2019
42:14:18Ruth Chepngetich (KEN)Chicago 2022
52:14:58Amane Beriso Shankule (ETH)Valencia 2022
62:15:25Paula Radcliffe (GBR)London 2003
72:15:37Tigst Assefa (ETH)Berlin 2022
72:15:37Ruth Chepngetich (KEN)Chicago 2023
92:15:51Worknesh Degefa (ETH)Valencia 2023
102:15:55Sutume Asefa Kebede (ETH)Tokyo 2024
112:16:02Brigid Kosgei (KEN)Tokyo 2022
122:16:07Tigist Ketema (ETH)Dubai 2024
132:16:14Rosemary Wanjiru (KEN)Tokyo 2024
142:16:16Peres Jepchirchir (KEN)London 2024
152:16:22Almaz Ayana (ETH)Valencia 2023
162:16:23Tigst Assefa (ETH)London 2024
172:16:24Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN)London 2024
182:16:28Rosemary Wanjiru (KEN)Tokyo 2023
192:16:34Megertu Alemu (ETH)London 2024
202:16:49Letesenbet Gidey (ETH)Valencia 2022

All data from World Athletics

Women’s Only World Record

As well as the overall women’s marathon world record, World Athletics recognises a ‘Women’s Only’ world record which qualifies when a race has a separate start for women, and is run without male competitors or male pacers. The London Marathon is a course which qualifies for a women’s only record. The women’s only world record is 2:16:16 run by Peres Jepchirchir at the 2024 London Marathon.

The Fastest Men’s Marathons Of All Time 

12:00:35 Kelvin Kiptum (KEN)Chicago 2023
22:01:09Eliud Kipchoge (KEN)Berlin 2022
32:01:25Kelvin Kiptum (KEN)London 2023
42:01:39Eliud Kipchoge (KEN)Berlin 2018
52:01:41Kenenisa Bekele (ETH)Berlin 2019
62:01:48Sisay Lemma (ETH)Valencia 2023
72:01:53Kelvin Kiptum (KEN)Valencia 2022
82:02:16Benson Kipruto (KEN)Tokyo 2024
92:02:37Eliud Kipchoge (KEN)London 2019
102:02:40Eliud Kipchoge (KEN)Tokyo 2022
112:02:42Eliud Kipchoge (KEN)Berlin 2023
122:02:48Birhanu Legese (ETH)Berlin 2019
132:02:55Mosinet Geremew (ETH)London 2019
132:02:55Timothy Kiplagat (KEN)Tokyo 2024
152:02:57Dennis Kimetto (KEN)Berlin 2014
162:03:00Evans Chebet (KEN)Valencia 2020
162:03:00Gabriel Gerald Geay (TAN)Valencia 2022
182:03:02Geoffrey Mutai (KEN) Boston 2011
192:03:03Kenenisa Bekele (ETH)Berlin 2016
202:03:04Lawrence Cherono (KEN)Valencia 2020

All data from World Athletics

Unofficial Records & World Bests 

Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to run a marathon in under two hours with his 1:59:40, but it wasn’t considered a world record because of the particular conditions of the run: it had rotating pacers, drinks were handed to him, and it was effectively a time trial and not a race.

Boston Marathon is also not a record-eligible course because it’s a point-to-point course with too much net downhill. According to World Athletics rules, ‘the start and finish points on the course, measured along a straight line between them, shall not be further apart than 50% of the race distance.’ Any fast time run at Boston can count as a ‘world best’ but not a world record, as happened to Geoffrey Mutai at the 2011 Boston Marathon, where a strong tailwind assisted a then-best 2:03:02. 

Lead image ©SCC EVENTS/Jean-Marc Wiesner



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