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World Beaters: Of Eliud Kipchoge, Brigid Kosgei and Other Record Breakers Over The Past 20 Years

Eliud Kipchoge has made history by becoming the first person to run a marathon distance in under two hours.

The 34-year-old Kenyan long-distance runner completed 26.2 miles in 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds at the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria.

To beat the two-hour target and run the fastest marathon distance, he had to travel at an average speed of 21.1 k/mh (13.1 mph), covering 100 m every 17.08 seconds.

Using a rotating team of pacemakers he sprinted over the finish line to beat the clock by 20 seconds in front of cheering crowds.
His run won’t count as an official marathon record as it was not completed in open competition.

Kipchoge does hold the official fastest marathon record having run 2:01:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon.

Nevertheless, his time is a landmark achievement which he compared to Roger Bannister becoming the first person to run a four-minute mile.

Decreasing marathon times

The official marathon records have regularly been broken over the past 20 years. This is how the men’s record has changed since 1998:

1998: Brazilian runner Ronaldo da Costa set a new official fastest marathon (male) record in 1998, completing the Berlin Marathon in 2:06:05.

1999: One year later and Khalid Khannouchi (Morocco) ran 2:05:42 in Chicago (USA) on 24 October 1999.

2002: Khannouchi beat his own record in 2002 when he ran the London Marathon in 2:05:38, taking four seconds off his time. His run in April 2002 was the last time the official fastest marathon (male) record was set at a race other than the Berlin Marathon.

2003: Paul Tergat (Kenya) completed the 2003 Berlin Marathon in 2:04:55.

2007: It was four years before his record was broken when Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie completed the Berlin course in 2:04:26.

2008: 12 months later and Gebrselassie became the first man to run under 2 hours 4 minutes, setting the record at 2:03:59.

2011: Patrick Makau (Kenya) took 21 seconds off that record in 2011 when he finished in a time of 2:03:38.

2013: Fellow Kenyan Wilson Kipsang then took the record to 2:03:23.

2014: He held the record for a year when Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (Kenya) took the time to under 2 hours 3 minutes, running the Berlin Marathon in 2:02:57.

2018: Eliud Kipchoge took the official record at last year’s race, running the 26.2 miles in 2:01:39.

Meanwhile the fastest marathon (female) record has been shared between three athletes over the same period:

1998: Tegla Loroupe (Kenya) ran 2:20:47 in Rotterdam.

1999: In September 1999 she took four seconds off that time at the Berlin Marathon, completing the distance in 2:20:43.

2001: Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) then smashed the record by nearly two minutes in Chicago, setting a record of 2:18:47.

2002: At the following year’s Chicago Marathon, Britain’s Paula Radcliffe shaved another 90 seconds off the record with a time of 2:17:18 in October 2002.

2003: Six months at the London Marathon later Radcliffe then went even faster: 2:15:25. Her record still stands 16 years later.

2019 (October): 16 years later Kenyan Brigid Kosgei slashed the record by 71 seconds to 2:14:40.


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