Just how fast is the marathon world record pace?

Just how fast is the marathon world record pace?

The marathon is the official name for a precise distance,26.2 miles or 42.1km. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens. The Marathon was one of the original events from the modern Olympics which began in 1896, the winner of the first Olympic marathon, on 10 April 1896 (a male-only race), was Spyridon Louis, a Greek water-carrier, in 2 hours 58 minutes and 50 seconds.



Eliud Kipchoge


Women have competed since 1896 however their times have been removed from the records, the first official marathon by a woman was not until 1959. The women's marathon was introduced at the 1984 Summer Olympics (Los Angeles, USA) and was won by Joan Benoit of the United States with a time of 2 hours 24 minutes and 52 seconds.


Since these inaugural Olympic races, completion times have plummeted for both sexes and due to Nike’s new shoe innovations times over the past 3-4 years have dropped more significantly than ever. (There is so much discussion around these shoes you can find out more by listening to this podcast).


The current world records are held by Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:39) and Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) for many these are just numbers on a page that might sound somewhat impressive. We are going to break down just how insanely quickly these athletes run and give you challenges to see if you can match them!


Team Sport Comparison


Here is a table of speed categories coaches of football, rugby and Aussie rules follow. Our marathon runners are spending over 2 hours in Zone 5, described as ‘high intensity running’. Our team sport athletes will only spend seconds at a time in zone 5 then will return to a walk or jog.



Your local treadmill


Now we don’t recommend you actually step on the treadmill but next time you pop into a gym turn your treadmill up to speed 20.7, this is the men’s pace for 2 hours. 18.9 will provide you with Brigid’s speed!


Athletics Track


We’d love to see you tag us in your efforts, if you have an athletics track nearby, run 1 lap as fast as you can. If you can manage it in 69 seconds or 76 seconds you are on track for the men’s or women’s record… just 104.5 more laps to go!!!


If one lap is too much, let’s step into Usain Bolt’s shoes and line up on the 100m start line, your target for this sprint is 17.4s to 19s. Easy? Let’s try 4 of these with 20s rest between, once again we’d love to see your efforts!

- Tag us @projectmvp on Insta!


A relay race is another great idea, see how many laps you and three friends can keep up marathon pace for! 100m each, rest while your friend works.




Now here’s a challenge for all the family, see if you can cycle a marathon at the same speed that they run it. Trust me, even on a bike, you’ll be feeling like you’ve worked hard by cycling at 18.9-20.7kph!


If you are looking to improve your endurance or sprint speed, we have gym programmes available to complement your running training.


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Team MVP



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  2. Wisbey B, Montgomery PG, Pyne DB, et al. Quantifying demands of AFL football using GPS tracking. J Sci Med Sport. 2010;13(5):531–6. [PubMed]
  3. Aughey RJ, Falloon C. Real-time versus post-game GPS data in team sports. J Sci Med Sport. 2010;13(3):348–9. [PubMed]