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12 November 2020   |   Blog   |   

4 of the Fastest- Record Breaking Courses.

In any sport there are records. Ground breaking, landmark times or distances that were once considered impossible to beat. The world of running has been watching records fall and boundaries being broken for decades. From Roger Bannister’s 4 minute mile in 1965, to Eliud Kipchoge’s Ineos 1:59 Challenge just 1 year ago. Record breaking runs like this inspire us. Make us want to get out there, and pit ourselves against the fastest courses in the world….

And, just in case you want to do exactly that, here’s our list of the current World Record Breaking Courses!

1. Men’s Half Marathon –  Copenhagen Half Marathon (Denmark)

Record Time: 58:01, by Geoffrey Kamworor  (September 15, 2019)
Previous Record: 58:18, by Abraham Kiptum (Valencia, October 28, 2018)

Copenhagen Half Marathon

This event was established in 2015, following the successful hosting of the 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen. The route differs only slightly from the original Championships course; with the start and finish near Parken Stadium. The Copenhagen Half Marathon has quickly earnt a stellar reputation. It is now a World Athletics Gold Label Road Race and the largest annual road running event in the city.

Copenhagen is a picturesque and popular city. From the fairy tale famed Little Mermaid statue, to the world renowned Opera House; home to the impressive Amalienborg Palace, and the New Harbour waterfront; Copenhagen is one of Europe’s ‘must do’ sightseeing locations. Making the Copenhagen Half the perfect way to combine a bucket – list race with a city break in an iconic destination.


In 2021 the race will feature as one of the races in the inaugural SuperHalfs Series. The brand new series is aiming to put the world’s most popular race (the half marathon) into the spotlight (think the Majors of Half Marathon running). Alongside Copenhagen, the SuperHalfs series will feature half marathon races in, Valencia, Lisbon, Cardiff, and Prague.

2. Women’s Half Marathon – Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon (United Arab Emirates) 

Record Time: 1:04:31 by Ababel Yeshaneh ( February 21, 2020) 
Previous Record: 1:04:51, by Joyciline Jepkosgei (Valencia, October 22, 2017)

This relatively new race has already gained a reputation as a World Record breaking machine! The course has seen no less than 4 world records in it’s short history.  3 have come from the women’s race and one, at the first ever edition in 2007, in the men’s. Long distance legend Mary Jepkosgei Keitany (winner of 4 NYC and 3 London Marathons) has won this race no less than 3 times, while the current men’s record of 58:42 is held jointly by Kenyan runners Bedan Karoki and Stephen Kiprop.

Due to the conditions in the UAE, the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon starts very early in the morning. 06:30 am is the start of the Elite Race with the General race beginning at 07:30.

3. Men’s Marathon – Berlin Marathon (Germany)

Record Time: 2:01:39, by Eliud Kipchoge (September 19, 2018)
Previous Record: 2:02:57, by Dennis Kimetto (Berlin, September 28, 2014)

In recent years, the BMW Berlin Marathon has cemented its reputation as a blistering fast course. 6 of the 10 fastest recorded marathon times of all time have been set in the German Capital. The beginnings of the race were however much more humble. The first edition was held in 1974, with just 286 starters, and less than 250 finishers. It was known as the ‘1st Berlin People’s Marathon’. Founded by local baker Horst Milde, it took place in the Grunewald forest on the outskirts of Berlin. Far from the fiercely competitive race it is now, 2:44:53 was enough to win the day at that inaugural edition.

In 1981 the race saw a change of venue, taking place on the city’s roads for the first time. It was Britain’s Ian Ray who won that edition in a time of 2:15:41. The change of venue saw the start of the Berlin Marathon’s rise in popularity, as numbers flew from 3,486 (1981) to over 10000 (11,814 in 1985).

The “Run Free Marathon”, or “The Run of Unity” (“Das Lauf der Einheit”), were among the names given to the Berlin Marathon in 1990. On 30th September 1990, just three days before the official reunification of Germany, the course of the Berlin Marathon passed through Brandenburg Gate. Once a symbol of oppression, but newly becoming emblem of unity, runners poured through the German capital’s most famous landmark, and into both parts of Berlin. East German native (and now Boston Marathon legend) Uta Pippig took a poignant victory in the ladies race in a time of 2:28:37, while Steve Moneghetti of Australia was the fastest finisher in 2:08:16, a world leading time for the year so far.

Since 2003, no less than 7 world record times have been set in the German Capital, including 2 consecutively by the Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie. The 2018 edition of the Berlin Marathon shocked the world, as Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge powered to a new world record in a jaw dropping 2:01:39. He ran with the most evenly paced marathon splits ever recorded (just 19 seconds separating his slowest 5k 14:37 and his fastest 14:18).

4. Women’s Marathon – Chicago Marathon (United States of America)

Record Time: 2:14:04, by Brigid Kosgei (October 13, 2019)
Previous Record: 2:15:25, by Paula Radcliffe (London, April 13, 2003)

Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Although marathon running in Chicago dates back as far as 1905, the marathon, as we know it today was established in 1977. At the first event, on September 25, 1977, 4,200 people took part. Just one tenth of 40,000 that now line up to run each year. By 1982, the race was offering sufficient prize money to attract the world’s top athletes, and the records started tumbling.

World records have been broken at Chicago five times. The first being Welsh athlete Steve Jones in 1984. It was his first time completing a marathon distance race, and he finished in 2:08:05, taking thirteen seconds off the then world record. The most recent men’s world record to be set in Chicago was in 1999, by Moroccan/American athlete Khalid Khannouchi, in a time of 2:05:42. However, last year Brigid Kosegei of Kenya, stormed to victory in the women’s race, in a time of  2:14:04, taking some 81 seconds off the previous world record, which had been set by Paula Radcliffe way back in 2003.

Kosegei has proved somewhat of a formidable force in women’s marathon running. She has finished in the top 2 in all but one of the 12 marathons she has completed. The victor of the last 3 Chicago Marathons, will Kosegei be able to defend her crown in 2021?

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