Running a marathon – or 26.2 miles – has become an increasingly popular endeavor, whether as a bucket list item or a way of life.
It’s a true feat of endurance, with some of the fastest marathon finisher times clocking in at just over 2 hours and slow marathon times finishing in over 6 hours.
What’s the Average Marathon Time?
For individual gender, the women’s average marathon time is 4:48:45, or an 11-minute mile average. And the men’s is 4:21:03, which is a 9:57-minute mile pace.
Professional male marathon runners tend to average around 2:05, while elite women tend to finish at just over 2:20. See below for the fastest-ever marathon times.
Average Marathon Finisher Times by Age
The data on average marathon time by age is limited. However, the researchers at RunningClick compiled age-specific data (as well as a wealth of other metrics) from 2014 to 2017. Based on the latest year, marathon times by age were:
- Ages 0-19 – 4:18:59
- Ages 20-29 – 4:28:33
- Ages 30-39 – 4:23:16
- Ages 40-49 – 4:23:14
- Ages 50-59 – 4:31:27
- Ages 60-69 – 4:51:36
- Ages 70-79 – 5:24:35
- Ages 80-89 – 6:12:38
- Ages 90-99 – 5:24:25
The study also pointed out that ages 40-49 were the fastest for men with an average marathon time of 4:11:19 and 20-29 was the fastest age group for women with an average finisher time of 4:42:10.
What’s the Fastest Marathon Time?
The fastest marathon time is 1:59:40, set by Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge at a special time trial event in Vienna. However, this time is not recognized as an official marathon record due to the nature of the event.
Eliud Kipchoge’s 2:01:09 time at the 2022 Berlin Marathon currently stands as the official fastest marathon time.
The fastest female marathon finisher time is 2:14:04, set by Brigid Kosgei at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. Kosgei is also Kenyan and has an impressive career of fast marathon times.
An interesting study by the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that it could be beyond 2030 before we see another breakthrough sub-2-hour marathon and that it’s possible we’ll see times get into the 1:58’s, but unlikely times will go any lower.
What’s a “Good” Marathon Time?
The definition of a “good” marathon time is highly subject to a runner’s age, gender, and athletic ability. In simple terms, one could argue that a sub-4-hour marathon is better than most.
Generally, an above-average marathon time is considered to be between 3:35 and 4 hours for men, and between 3:48 and 4:30.
On the elite level, an above-average marathon finisher time would be under 2:10 for men and sub-2:25 for women. The course, its elevation profile, wind, and weather conditions are all pivotal elements that can shape a marathoner’s finish time.
What’s the Average Marathon Time for an Ironman?
Coming off the heels of a 2.4-mile swim and a 112-mile bike ride, the average marathon finisher for an Ironman triathlon is about 4 hours and 50 minutes. For women, the average Ironman marathon time is just above 5 hours, and for men, it’s about 4 hours and 40 minutes.
For professional triathletes, the men’s field will average between 2:50 and 3:00 marathon times and the women between 3:15 and 3:25. Given the dynamics of triathlon, disciplines of athletic expertise, and variability of course difficulty, these times can vary widely.
With those variables in mind, the fastest marathon times in the Ironman have been achieved on flat courses. At Ironman Texas in 2018, Matt Hanson set the fastest Ironman marathon time for men with a 2:34:39 run split. The women’s fastest Ironman marathon was executed by Kristin Moeller who clocked a 2:41:57 run split.
Will the Average Marathon Finisher Time Continue to Improve
Marathon participation has grown by nearly 49 percent worldwide from 2008 to 2018. Women lead the way with a participation rate of about 57 percent, while men’s participation rate has increased by 47 percent.
As the talent pool for runners widens, the average marathon finisher time will likely continue to improve. I think it’s only a matter of time before the fastest
About the Author
Tyler Tafelsky is an experienced multisport athlete who specializes in various endurance sports, especially distance running and cycling. Today, he competes in ultra gravel bike races on the professional level. Tyler is the Head of Content for Better Triathlete and leads the site’s editorial team. Learn more about Tyler. Or follow him on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Resources and citations:
 ANGUS, SIMON D.. A Statistical Timetable for the Sub–2-Hour Marathon. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 51(7):p 1460-1466, July 2019. | DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001928
Experienced endurance athlete, pro cyclist, and sports writer, Tyler Tafelsky participates in long-distance multisport and cycling events. He competes in ultra-distance cycling races at the professional and elite amateur levels. Since starting Better Triathlete in 2014, Tyler has been the head of content and leads the site's editorial team.