The Quick Report

Man Has Shattered the World Speed Record

Human beings keep getting faster. In 2023, one man has shattered the world speed record for marathon runners set last year. He shaved off 34 seconds in the men’s marathon, and has now become the fastest marathoner of all time.

Kelvin Kiptum Is the Fastest Marathon Runner of all Time

On Sunday, October 8, 2023, Kelvin Kiptum, a 23-year-old marathon runner from Kenya ran the 26.2-mile (42.195 km) Chicago Marathon at an astonishing speed of two hours 35 seconds (2:00:35). 

It was only the third marathon Kiptum had run in his brief career, yet the man shattered the world speed record set last year by 34 seconds. That record was achieved by marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge at the 2022 Berlin Marathon.

Kiptum ran an average of four and a half minute miles and maintained that average throughout the entirety of the race. When he crossed the finish line, no other challengers were near him.

“I knew I was coming for a course record, but a world record — I am so happy,” Kiptum told World Athletics. “A world record was not on my mind today, but I knew one day I would be a world record-holder.”

World Record Marathon Times Over the Past Two-plus Decades

By all accounts, human beings are running faster and faster. Case in point: Let’s take a look at marathon speeds over the past two decades.

  • 1. Kelvin Kiptum (Kenya): Current world record time of 2 hours and 35 seconds at the 2023 Chicago Marathon.
  • 2. Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya): 2 hours and 1:09 at the Berlin Marathon, September 25, 2022.
  • 3. Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya): 2 hours and 1:39 at the Berlin Marathon, September 25, 2018.
  • 4.. Dennis Kimetto (Kenya): 2 hours and 2:57 at the Berlin Marathon, September 28, 2014.
  • 5. Wilson Kipsang (Kenya): 2 hours and 3:23 at the Berlin Marathon, September 29, 2013.
  • 6. Patrick Makau (Kenya): 2 hours and 3:38 at the Berlin Marathon, September 29, 2011.
  • 7. Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia): 2 hours and 3:38 at the Berlin Marathon, September 28, 2008.
  • 8. Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia): 2 hours and 4:26 at the Berlin Marathon, September 30, 2007.
  • 9. Paul Tergat (Kenya): 2 hours and 4:55 at the Berlin Marathon, September 28, 2003.
  • 10. Khalid Khannouchi (United States): 2 hours and 4:55 at the London Marathon, April 14, 2002.

Is a Sub-Two-Hour Marathon Possible?

By comparison, looking at some of the oldest accepted records, marathon runners had barely managed to crack the three-hour mark at that time. 

Johnny Hayes (United States) set a time of 2:55:18.4 on July 24, 1908, at the London Olympics.

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Albert Michelsen (United States) was the first runner to turn in a sub-two-and-a-half hour finish with a time of 2:29:01.8 on October 12, 1925, at the Port Chester Marathon, United States.

Now, a mere 35 seconds is what separates a sub-two-hour marathon finish. 

Considering that Kelvin Kiptum has run a mere three marathons thus far and is only 23 years old begs the question: could he be the first to break the two-hour mark?