What Is The Fastest 10k Time Ever? Diving Into Astounding 10k Stats

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It’s always fun to look at the fastest running times for specific distances and drop your jaw in awe at the blazing performances. Today, we will look at the fastest time for a 10k.

What is the fastest 10k time ever? What is the fastest 10k time high school runners have achieved, and what is the world record 10k time for women and men?

In this article, we will discuss the fastest time for a 10k, the progression of the world record 10k times for men and women, the fastest 10k time high school runners have achieved, and the average 10k times for everyday runners.

We will cover: 

  • What Is The Fastest 10k Time Ever?
  • The 10k World Record Progression
  • What Is the Fastest 10k High School Time?

Let’s dive in! 

A running track.

What Is The Fastest 10k Time Ever? 

So, what is the fastest 10k time ever? For that stat, we have to look at the 10,000-meter world records.

According to World Athletics, the official 10,000-meter world record for men on the track is a time of 26:11.00, a record held by Ugandan runner Joshua Cheptegei and set on October 7, 2020, at Estadio de Atletismo del Turia in Valencia, Spain.

This means that the fastest 10 km time works out to an average pace of 4:13 per mile or 2:37 per kilometer.

According to World Athletics, the official women’s 10,000-meter world record on the track is a time of 29:01.03. This world record 10,000-meter performance is held by Ethiopian runner Letesenbet Gidey and was set on June 8, 2021, at Blankers-Koen Stadion, in Hengelo, Netherlands.

Therefore, Gidey ran an average pace of 4:41 per mile en route to her 10k world record.

Related: Race Time Calculator – Predict Your Race Finish Times

Runners on a track.

According to Athletics Weekly, the fastest 10k time on the road is 26:24. This 10k world record is held by Kenyan runner Rhonex Kipruto and was set on January 12, 2020.

In terms of the pace, this fastest 10 km time works out to just about 4:15 per mile (or 2:38 per kilometer).

According to Athletics Weekly, the fastest 10k time for women on the road is 29:14. This women’s 10k world record is held by Ethiopian runner Yalemzerf Yehualaw and was set on February 27, 2022. 

Yehualaw‘s fastest 10 km time workouts out to 4:47 per mile or 2:58 per kilometer.

The fastest 10k run performances were not officially recognized as world records by the IAAF until August 2003, when the IAAF Congress decided to approve world record status for several long-distance road distances, including the 10 km.

Prior to this time, rather than being considered “10 km world records,” the fastest 10k race times were considered “world bests 10 km” times.

A runner's legs launching off the road.

When looking at the fastest 10 km performances for both men and women, it is quite evident that the 10 km world records and prior 10 km world bests have been dominated by runners of East African descent.

Indeed, the 10 km distance has been dominated by runners from East Africa since the 1990s. 

When looking specifically at the fastest 10 km times, all 10 of the official 10k men’s world records have been set by east African runners, five of whom are Kenyan.

On the women’s side, nine of the fastest 10 km performances for women were also achieved by runners from East African nations.

The 10k World Record Progression

The first 10,000-meter world record ratified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was in 1912 and was reflective of the 30:58.8 performance by French runner Jean Bouin from the prior year.

A runner sprinting on a track.

There have been 38 official 10k world records ratified by the IAAF. 

30:58.8Jean Bouin FranceNovember 16, 1911Paris, France 
30:40.2Paavo Nurmi  FinlandJune 22, 1921Stockholm, Sweden 
30:35.4Ville Ritola  FinlandMay 25, 1924Helsinki, Finland 
30:23.2Ville Ritola  FinlandJuly 6, 1924Paris, France 
30:06.2Paavo Nurmi  FinlandAugust 31, 1924Kuopio, Finland 
30:05.6Ilmari Salminen  FinlandJuly 18, 1937Kouvola, Finland 
30:02.0Taisto Mäki  FinlandSeptember 29, 1938Tampere, Finland 
29:52.6Taisto Mäki  FinlandSeptember 17, 1939Helsinki, Finland 
29:35.4Viljo Heino  FinlandAugust 25, 1944Helsinki, Finland 
29:28.2Emil Zátopek  Czech RepublicJune 11, 1949Ostrava, Czech Republic 
29:27.2Viljo Heino  FinlandSeptember 1, 1949Kouvola, Finland 
29:21.2Emil Zátopek  Czech RepublicOctober 22, 1949Ostrava, Czech Republic 
29:02.6Emil Zátopek  Czech RepublicAugust 4, 1950Turku, Finland 
29:01.6Emil Zátopek  Czech RepublicNovember 1, 1953Stara Boleslav, Czech Republic 
28:54.2Emil Zátopek  Czech RepublicJune 1, 1954Brussels, Belgium 
28:42.8Sandor Iharos HungaryJuly 15, 1956Budapest, Hungary 
28:30.4Vladimir Kuts RussiaSeptember 11, 1956Moscow, Soviet Union 
28:18.8Pyotr Bolotnikov RussiaOctober 15, 1960Kiev, Soviet Union 
28:18.2Pyotr Bolotnikov RussiaAugust 11, 1962Moscow, Soviet Union 
28:15.6Ron Clarke AustriaDecember 18, 1963Melbourne, Australia 
27:39.4Ron ClarkeAustriaJuly 14, 1965Oslo, Norway 
27:38.4Lasse Virén  FinlandSeptember 3, 1972Munich, Germany 
27:30.8David Bedford  Great BritainJuly 13, 1973London, United Kingdom 
27:30.5Samson Kimobwa  KenyaJune 30, 1977Helsinki, Finland 
27:22.4Henry Rono  KenyaJune 11, 1978Vienna, Austria 
27:13.8Fernando Mamede  PortugalJuly 2, 1984Stockholm, Sweden 
27:08.2Arturo Barrios MexicoAugust 18, 1989Berlin, Germany 
27:07.9Richard Chelimo  KenyaJuly 5, 1993Stockholm, Sweden 
26:58.4Yobes Ondieki  KenyaJuly 10, 1993Oslo, Norway 
26:52.2William Sigei  KenyaJuly 22, 1994Oslo, Norway 
26:43.5Haile Gebrselassie  EthiopiaJune 5, 1995Hengelo, Netherlands 
26:38.1Salah Hissou  MoroccoAugust 23, 1996Brussels, Belgium 
26:31.3Haile Gebrselassie  EthiopiaJuly 4, 1997Oslo, Norway 
26:27.9Paul Tergat  KenyaAugust 22, 1997Brussels, Belgium 
26:22.7Haile Gebrselassie  EthiopiaJune 1, 1998Hengelo, Netherlands 
26:20.3Kenenisa Bekele  EthiopiaJune 8, 2004Ostrava, Czech Republic 
26:17.5Kenenisa Bekele  EthiopiaAugust 26, 2005Brussels, Belgium 
26:11.0Joshua Cheptegei UgandaOctober 7, 2020Valencia, Spain
A woman runner on a track.

There have been far fewer women’s 10k world record performances ratified by the IAAF than for men, as the first women’s 10,000-meter world record was not recognized by the IAAF until 1981.

Before the IAAF decided to accept the 10,000-meter run as a world record-eligible event for women in 1981, the 10,000-meter run was not a particularly common international track event for women. 

It was occasionally contested at select track events, but the 10k on the track was not included in the World Championships and Olympic Games for women until 1987 and 1988, respectively.

Thus, prior to the IAAF recognizing the 10k world records for women in 1981, the primary long-distance track event that was world record eligible for women was the 3000-meter run.

A running coach keeping time of two runners on the track.

There have been eleven 10k world records for women:

32:17.2Yelena Sipatova RussiaOctober 19, 1981Moscow, Soviet Union 
31:35.3Mary Decker-SlaneyUnited StatesJuly 16, 1982Eugene, USA 
31:35.0Lyudmila BaranovaRussiaMay 29, 1983Krasnodar, Soviet Union 
31:27.6Raisa Sadreydinova RussiaSeptember 7, 1983Odessa, Soviet Union 
31:13.8Olga Bondarenko RussiaJune 24, 1984Kiev, Soviet Union 
30:59.4Ingrid Kristiansen NorwayJuly 27, 1985Oslo, Norway 
30:13.7Ingrid Kristiansen NorwayJuly 5, 1986Oslo, Norway 
29:31.8Wang Junxia ChinaSeptember 8, 1993Beijing, PR China 
29:17.4Almaz Ayana EthiopiaAugust 12, 2016Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 
29:06.8Sifan Hassan NetherlandsJune 6, 2021Hengelo, Netherlands 
29:01.0Letesenbet Gidey EthiopiaJune 8, 2021Hengelo, Netherlands 
High school girls lined up on a track.

What Is the Fastest 10k High School Time?

The fastest 10k high school times come from 10,000-meter track races since this distance is not contested in cross country and it’s difficult to find 10k road race records.

On the boy’s side, the fastest 10k high school time on the track is 28:32.7, a record held by Rudy Chapa from Hammond High School in Hammond, Indiana. 

This high school 10k record has stood since April 24, 1976, and was set in Des Moines, Iowa.

In races that were run by only high schoolers, the fastest 10,000-meter time for high school boys is 30:30.2.

This fastest high school 10k time is held by Jack Cuvo from Easton, Pennsylvania, and was set in Annandale, New Jersey, on July 12, 1985.

On the girl’s side, the fastest 10k high school time on the track is 32:52.5, a record held by Mary Shea from Gibbons High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

This high school 10k record has stood since June 15, 1979, and was set at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Walnut, California.

What’s your 10k PR? Want to get faster? Try a 10k training plan here.

A person looking at their running watch.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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