If you’re in marathon training mode and gearing up to run 26.2 miles, you might be curious about what the average marathon time is.
In this post, we do a deep dive into historical marathon finishing time data to check out what an average time to run a marathon looks like – by age, by gender, and by the race route you’re running.
Interested to see how your finishing time compares to others, or what a good marathon finishing time is?
Let’s jump in!
Table of Contents
- Average Marathon Times – Overall
- Average Marathon Time – By Gender
- Marathon Finishing Time: Distribution By Gender
- Average Marathon Time By Country
- Average Marathon Time By Age
- Average Marathon Times For Popular Races
- How To Improve Your Marathon Finishing Time
Average Marathon Times – Overall
The latest data shows that globally, the overall current average marathon finishing time is 4 hours, 32 minutes, and 49 seconds.
Interestingly, the data from 2001 shows that runners used to be a little faster! The average marathon time back then was 4 hours, 28 minutes, and 51 seconds. So we’ve gotten around 4 minutes, or 1.4% slower over time!
Going further back in time, the average time to finish a marathon was actually quite a bit quicker. Back in 1986, the overal average marathon finishing time was 3 hours, 52 minutes and 35 seconds – that’s over half an hour faster than our current average timings!
We can attribute this overall slowdown to the boom in distance running in the 1990’s and 2000’s, and more people adopting running as a healthy lifestyle choice.
Is a slower average marathon time a bad thing? hardly! It means more people willing to get up and run 26.2 miles, which is hard to argue with.
Average Marathon Pace
Based on the above overall average marathon finishing time of 4:21:39, this translates to an average marathon pace of 9:57/mile, or 6:12/km.
Note that this is the average pace, smoothed out over 26.2 miles.
But in reality, the average marathon runner gradually slows down over their race – in fact, on average the 2nd half of a marathon is run 11 minutes and 48 seconds slower than the first half (called the ‘marathon half split‘).
(Looking for marathon pace info? Check out our Marathon Pace Charts)
Average Marathon Time – By Gender
|Women’s Average |
Women’s Average Marathon Time
The current average women’s marathon finishing time is 4 hours, 39 minutes, and 9 seconds.
Some data shows that women have actually gotten faster by around 11 minutes in the past 20 years; this can be attributed to a boom in the number of women signing up for their first marathon in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The average age of a female marathon runner is 36 years old.
The average marathon half split by women is 11 minutes and 43 seconds; meaning this is how much slower they ran in the second half of their marathon, compared to the first half
Men’s Average Marathon Time
The current average men’s marathon finishing time is 4 hours, 10 minutes, and 10 seconds.
This represents a gradual slowdown in men’s timings: in 1986, the average men’s marathon time was 3:48:15, and in 2001 it had increased to 4:15:13.
The average age of a male marathon runner is 40 years old.
The average marathon half split by men is 11 minutes and 51 seconds; meaning this is how much slower they ran in the second half of their marathon, compared to the first half.
Marathon Finishing Time: Distribution By Gender
The graph above, used with kind permission from marastats.com, shows the distribution of finishing times for both men and women from over 3 million marathon finishing times.
It’s interesting to note the peaks on each graph leading up to each major time horizon – for example, the biggest peak represents runners squeezing in under the four hour mark.
Average Marathon Time By Country
Which Country Has The Fastest Marathon Runners?
The following chart shows the average marathon time for 46 countries, ranked in order of speed!
How do you measure up to your local average?
Average Marathon Time By Age
The following data breaks down the average finish time by age group and gender; it was based on a study of 21,000 marathon finishers in 2010.
Average Marathon Times For Popular Races
Here are average finishing times for some of the most popular U.S.-based marathons:
Average Boston Marathon Finishing Time: 3:54
Average Chicago Marathon Finishing Time: 4:34
Average San Francisco Marathon Finishing Time: 4:34
Average New York City Marathon Finishing Time: 4:37
Average Los Angeles Marathon Finishing Time: 5:32
Average Disney World Marathon Finishing Time: 5:48
How To Improve Your Marathon Finishing Time
If you’re looking to improve your marathon finishing time, sign up for my FREE 5-Day Marathon Training Bootcamp and I’ll send you tips and expert advice on how to train smart and achieve your marathon goals!
This article uses data and analysis from the following sources: