Marathon World Records (men)

Only recently has the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) officially ratified a 'world record' in the marathon event. Prior to that 'world bests' were listed, and even earlier to that there was no official listing of best times. Actually early marathon events varied in distance, with the official standardized length of a marathon of 42,195 meters (or 26 miles and 385 yards) being set 28 years after the first marathon in 1896. The official marathon distance corresponds to the length of the marathon event at the 1908 London Olympic Games.

Over the years the distance claimed for some courses have later been shown to be incorrect, and advantages of wind and downhill gradients have greatly assisted some times. In recent years, the IAAF have set guidelines for a record to be set, such as "The start and finish points of a course, measured along a theoretical straight line between them, shall not be further apart than 50% of the race distance.", and that "The decrease in elevation between the start and finish shall not exceed an average of one in a thousand, i.e. 1m per km.". These criteria allow for point to point courses as long as they satisfy these conditions, though there are some who are pushing to only recognize out and back courses.

Below is the men's marathon running world record evolution (the more recent best times listed first), showing only those times that have been officially listed by the IAAF.

In Sept 2013 Kenya's Wilson Kipsang set a new world record of 2:03:23, beating the old record by 15 seconds. Will an athlete ever run under two hours? I don't think it will happen for quite a while - see our poll about it. The current women's world best is 2:17:42 by UK's Paula Radcliffe, achieved in the 2005 London marathon.

Time Date Athlete Country Marathon Event
02:03:23 Sept 29, 2013 Wilson Kipsang Kenya Berlin Marathon
02:03:38 Sept 25, 2011 Patrick Makau Kenya Berlin Marathon
02:03:59 Sept 28, 2008 Haile Gebrselassie Ethiopia Berlin Marathon
02:04:26 Sept 30, 2007 Haile Gebrselassie Ethiopia Berlin Marathon
02:04:55 Sept 28, 2003 Paul Tergat Kenya Berlin Marathon
02:05:38 April 14, 2002 Khalid Khannouchi USA London Marathon
02:05:42 Oct 24, 1999 Khalid Khannouchi Morocco Chicago Marathon
02:06:05 Sept 20, 1998 Ronaldo da Costa Brazil Berlin Marathon
02:06:50 April 17, 1988 Belayneh Dinsamo Ethiopia Rotterdam Marathon
02:07:12 April 20, 1985 Carlos Lopes Portugal Rotterdam Marathon
02:08:05 Oct 21, 1984 Steve Jones UK Chicago Marathon
02:08:18 Dec 6, 1981 Robert De Castella Australia Fukuoka Marathon, Japan
02:08:33.60 May 30, 1969 Derek Clayton Australia Antwerp,  Belgium
02:09:36.40 Dec 3, 1967 Derek Clayton Australia Fukuoka Marathon, Japan
02:12:00 June 12, 1965 Morio Shigematsu Japan Polytechnic Marathon
02:12:12.20 Oct 21, 1964 Abebe Bikila Ethiopia Tokyo, Japan
02:13:55 June 13, 1964 Basil Heatley UK Polytechnic Marathon
02:14:28 June 15, 1963 Leonard Edelen USA Polytechnic Marathon
02:15:15.80 Feb 17, 1963 Toru Terasawa Japan Beppu-Ōita Marathon, Japan
02:15:16.20 Sept 10, 1960 Abebe Bikila Ethiopia Rome, Italy
02:15:17.00 Aug 24, 1958 Sergei Popov USSR Stockholm, Sweden
02:17:39.40 June 26, 1954 Jim Peters UK Polytechnic Marathon
02:18:34.80 Oct 4, 1953 Jim Peters UK Turku Marathon
02:18:40.40 June 13, 1953 Jim Peters UK Polytechnic Marathon
02:20:42.20 June 14, 1952 Jim Peters UK Polytechnic Marathon
02:25:39 April 19, 1947 Suh Yun-bok South Korea Boston Marathon
02:26:42 Nov 3, 1935 Son Kitei Japan Tokyo,  Japan
02:26:44.00 April 3, 1935 Yasuo Ikenaka Japan Tokyo,  Japan
02:27:49.00 Mar 31, 1935 Fusashige Suzuki Japan Tokyo,  Japan
02:29:01.80 Oct 12, 1925 Albert Michelsen USA Port Chester, USA
02:32:35.80 Aug 22, 1920 Hannes Kolehmainen Finland Antwerp, Belgium
02:36:06.60 May 31, 1913 Alexis Ahlgren Sweden Polytechnic Marathon
02:38:16.20 May 12, 1913 Harry Green UK Polytechnic Marathon
02:40:34.20 Aug 31, 1909 Thure Johansson Sweden Stockholm,  Sweden
02:42:31.00 May 26, 1909 Henry Barrett UK Polytechnic Marathon
02:46:04.60 May 8, 1909 Albert Raines USA New York City, USA
02:46:52.80 Feb 12, 1909 James Clark USA New York City, USA
02:52:45.40 Jan 1, 1909 Robert Fowler USA Yonkers, USA
02:55:18.40 July 24, 1908 Johnny Hayes USA London

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