Looking at the fastest race times for different running distances is a fun way to increase your motivation to set a big PR.
But, what is the fastest 5k time ever? What is the fastest 5k time high school runners have achieved, and what is the world record 5k finish time?
In this article, we will look at the fastest time for a 5k, the progression of the world record 5k performances, the fastest 5k time high school runners have achieved, and the average 5k times for everyday runners.
We will cover:
- What Is The Fastest 5k Time Ever?
- The 5k World Record Progression
- What Is the Fastest 5k High School Time?
Let’s dive in!
What Is The Fastest 5k Time Ever?
When looking at the fastest time for a 5k, it’s important to distinguish whether you are looking at a 5000-meter record on the track or a 5k road race time.
Both events are technically 5 kilometers, but the fastest time for 5000 meters on the track will be faster than the fastest time for 5k on the road.
According to World Athletics, the official men’s world record in the 5000-meter run on the track is held by Joshua Cheptegei, who ran a blazing time of 12:35.36 on August 14, 2020.
This works out to 2:31 per kilometer or 4:01 per mile—yes, that’s right; he was able to run over three 4-minute miles back to back!
As per World Athletics, the official women’s world record in the 5000-meter run on the track is held by Letesenbet Gidey, who ran an impressive time of 14:06.62 on October 7, 2020, at Estadio de Atletismo del Turia in Valencia, Spain.
This works out to 2:49 per kilometer or 4:33 per mile.
According to Athletics Weekly, Joshua Cheptegei also holds the fastest 5k time on the road. The 5k road race world record is 12:51, a record set on February 16, 2020.
Athletics Weekly reports that the 5k world record for women on the road is held by Kenyan runner Beatrice Chepkoech. She ran 14:43 on February 14, 2021, in Monaco.
The 5k World Record Progression
World Athletics is the official ratifying organization for world records in track and field or the sport of athletics at large. It was previously called the International Association of Athletics Federations, or IAAF.
On the men’s side, the first world record in the men’s 5000-meter run that was recognized by World Athletics was a time of 14:36.36 set by Hannes Kolehmainen in 1912.
There have been 36 official men’s 5k world record times on the track.
Here is the progression of the men’s 5k world record times on the track:
|14:36.6||Hannes Kolehmainen||Finland||July 10, 1912||Stockholm, Sweden|
|14:35.4||Paavo Nurmi||Finland||September 12, 1922||Stockholm, Sweden|
|14:28.2||Paavo Nurmi||Finland||June 19, 1924||Helsinki, Finland|
|14:17.0||Lauri Lehtinen||Finland||June 19, 1932||Helsinki, Finland|
|14:08.8||Taisto Mäki||Finland||June 16, 1939||Helsinki, Finland|
|13:58.2||Gunder Hägg||Sweden||September 20, 1942||Gothenburg, Sweden|
|13:57.2||Emil Zátopek||Czechoslovakia||May 30, 1954||Paris, France|
|13:56.6||Vladimir Kuts||Russia||August 29, 1954||Bern, Switzerland|
|13:51.6||Chris Chataway||Great Britain||October 13, 1954||London, United Kingdom|
|13:51.2||Vladimir Kuts||Russia||October 23, 1954||Prague, Czechoslovakia|
|13:50.8||Sandor Iharos||Hungary||September 10, 1955||Budapest, Hungary|
|13:46.8||Vladimir Kuts||Russia||September 18, 1955||Belgrad, Yugoslavia|
|13:40.6||Sandor Iharos||Hungary||October 23, 1955||Budapest, Hungary|
|13:36.8||Gordon Pirie||Great Britain||June 19, 1956||Bergen, Norway|
|13:35.0||Vladimir Kuts||Russia||October 13, 1957||Rome, Italy|
|13:34.8||Ron Clarke||Austria||January 16, 1965||Hobart, Australia|
|13:33.6||Ron Clarke||Austria||February 1, 1965||Auckland, New Zealand|
|13:25.8||Ron Clarke||Austria||June 4, 1965||Compton, USA|
|13:24.2||Kipchoge Keino||Kenya||November 30, 1965||Auckland, New Zealand|
|13:16.6||Ron Clarke||Austria||July 5, 1966||Stockholm, Sweden|
|13:16.4||Lasse Virén||Finland||September 14, 1972||Helsinki, Finland|
|13:13.0||Emiel Puttemans||Belgium||September 20, 1972||Brussels, Belgium|
|13:12.9||Dick Quax||New Zealand||July 5, 1977||Stockholm, Sweden|
|13:08.4||Henry Rono||Kenya||April 8, 1978||Berkeley, California, USA|
|13:06.2||Henry Rono||Kenya||September 13, 1981||Knarvik, Norway|
|13:00.4||David Moorcroft||Great Britain||July 7, 1982||Oslo, Norway|
|13:00.4||Saïd Aouita||Morocco||July 22, 1985||Oslo, Norway|
|12:58.4||Saïd Aouita||Morocco||July 27, 1987||Rome, Italy|
|12:57.0||Haile Gebrselassie||Ethiopia||June 4, 1994||Hengelo, Netherlands|
|12:55.3||Moses Kiptanui||Kenya||June 8, 1995||Rome, Italy|
|12:44.4||Haile Gebrselassie||Ethiopia||August 16, 1995||Zürich, Switzerland|
|12:41.9||Haile Gebrselassie||Ethiopia||August 13, 1997||Zürich, Switzerland|
|12:39.7||Daniel Komen||Kenya||August 22, 1997||Brussels, Belgium|
|12:39.4||Haile Gebrselassie||Ethiopia||June 13, 1998||Helsinki, Finland|
|12:37.4||Kenenisa Bekele||Ethiopia||May 31, 2004||Hengelo, Netherlands|
|12:35.4||Joshua Cheptegei||Uganda||August 14, 2020||Monaco|
There have been far fewer women’s 5k world record performances ratified by the IAAF because, prior to 1981, the IAAF did not recognize the 5000 meters as a world record event for women.
Instead, the 3000-meter run was the most common long-distance track event for women with international contesting.
There have been 15 official women’s 5k world record times on the track.
Here is the progression of the women’s 5k world record times on the track:
|15:14.5||Paula Fudge||Great Britain||September 13, 1981||Knarvik, Norway|
|15:13.2||Anne Audain||New Zealand||March 17, 1982||Auckland, New Zealand|
|15:08.3||Mary Tabb||United States||June 5, 1982||Eugene, Oregon, United States|
|15:01.8||Zola Budd||South Africa||January 5, 1984||Stellenbosch, South Africa|
|14:58.9||Ingrid Kristiansen||Norway||June 28, 1984||Oslo, Norway|
|14:48.1||Zola Budd||Great Britain||August 26, 1985||London, United Kingdom|
|14:37.3||Ingrid Kristiansen||Norway||August 5, 1986||Stockholm, Sweden|
|14:36.5||Fernanda Ribeiro||Portugal||July 22, 1995||Hechtel, Belgium|
|14:31.3||Dong Yanmei||China||October 21, 1997||Shanghai, China|
|14:28.1||Jiang Bo||China||October 23, 1997||Shanghai, China|
|14:24.7||Elvan Abeylegesse||Turkey||June 11, 2004||Bergen, Norway|
|14:24.5||Meseret Defar||Ethiopia||June 3, 2006||New York, United States|
|14:16.6||Meseret Defar||Ethiopia||June 15, 2007||Oslo, Norway|
|14:11.2||Tirunesh Dibaba||Ethiopia||June 6, 2008||Oslo, Norway|
|14:06.6||Letesenbet Gidey||Ethiopia||October 7, 2020||Valencia, Spain|
What Is the Fastest 5k High School Time?
According to Track and Field News, the fastest 5k high school time is held by Galen Rupp of Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon.
This record was set on the track (5,000 meters) at Heusden-Zolder, Belgium, on July 31, 2004, and stands at 13:37.91.
The 5,000-meter high school record set in a race that included only high school runners is 13:55.96. This 5000-meter record was set on April 12, 2008, in Arcadia, California, by Chris Derrick of Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois.
For the 5k record for high school girls, a recent record was set by Natalie Cook from Flower Mound, Texas, on April 1, 2022, at Stanford, California. She ran 15:25.93, according to Track and Field News.
The 5,000-meter high school record set in a race that included only high school runners is 15:55.94. This 5000-meter record was set on June 14, 2013, in Greensboro, North Carolina, by Wesley Frazier of Ravenscroft High School in Raleigh, North Carolina.
It is much harder to find the 5k high school records for cross country, but according to World Track, Colin Sahlman of Newbury Park broke the high school 5k cross country record on December 4, 2021, at the 2021 Garmin RunningLane XC Championships in Huntsville, AL.
There, he ran an impressive 14:03.29. This works out to a 4:42 pace.
The fastest 5k high school time in a cross-country race on the girl’s side is a blazing time of 15:58.42.
This record is held by Jenna Hutchins from Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tennessee, and was set at the RunningLane National Cross-Country Championships on November 21, 2020, in Huntsville, Alabama.
What’s your 5k PR? Learn about setting a 5k PR here.