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Marathon Finish Time

Marathon Finish Time large group of runners

How long does it take to run a marathon?

According to the largest study of race results in history, runners worldwide have slowed their marathon finish time. From 1986 to 2018, the average marathon finish time has increased 36 minutes – from 3:52:35 to 4:28:56. Thus, global marathon finish times have increased by 15.6%. 

Compared to other countries, the U.S. consistently has the slowest marathon finish times. However, after 2002, Spain consistently has the fastest marathon finish times.

Male Finish Time

On average, male marathon runners finish faster than females. From 1986 to 2018, men marathon finish times increased by 34 minutes (3:48:15 to 4:22:13). Over these 32 years, male marathoners slowed their finish times by 13.8%.

Female Finish Time

Female marathon finish times have slowed more than men. During this same period, women marathon finish times increased by 42 minutes (4:18:00 to 5 hours). Therefore, female marathoners finished times declined by 15.1%.

Average Marathon Pace

The average marathon pace for male runners is 9:07 min/mile (5:40 min/km). However, the average female marathon pace is slower at 10:15 min/mile (6:22 min/km).

Marathon Finish Time by Age

Marathon runners ages 30 to 50 have the fastest finish time of 4 hours and 24 minutes on average. Runners younger than 30 and between 50 and 60 have comparably slower finish times (4:32 and 4:34, respectively).

Lastly, the slowest runners are over age 70 and have an average finish time of 5 hours and 40 minutes in 2018.

Fast or Slow Marathon

You can run a faster marathon on a primarily flat rather than a hilly (up and down) course. For example, my first marathon is the Buffalo Marathon. It’s a flat course with only 245 feet of elevation gain. I plan to finish this marathon in under 4 hours.

Finally, the fastest marathon races are on downhill courses. The best chance to qualify for the Boston Marathon is running a downhill Marathon.

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