fbpx

What Is The Fastest 5K Time Ever?: 5K World Records Explored

We'll explore the fastest time for a 5K, the progression of 5K world records, and the fastest high school 5K times.

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? And, outside of elite world record holders, what is the fastest 5K time high school runners have achieved, and what is the world record 5K finish time?

The legs of runners running hard on a track.

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, 2020.1World Athletics. (n.d.). Worldathletics.org. https://worldathletics.org/records/by-category/world-records

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.2World Athletics. (n.d.). Worldathletics.org. https://worldathletics.org/records/by-category/world-records

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, 2020.3World records and best performances, men’s road running. (n.d.). AW. https://athleticsweekly.com/stats/records/world-records-best-performances-mens-road-running/

Athletics Weekly reports that the 5K world record for women on the road is held by Kenyan elite runner Beatrice Chepkoech. She ran a new world record of 14:43 on February 14, 2021, in Monaco.4World records and best performances, men’s road running. (n.d.). AW. https://athleticsweekly.com/stats/records/world-records-best-performances-mens-road-running/

Related: Race Time Calculator – Predict Your Race Finish Times

Runners running hard on a track.

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 1912.5https://web.archive.org/web/20110629134819/http://www.iaaf.org/mm/document/competitions/competition/05/15/63/20090706014834_httppostedfile_p345-688_11303.pdf

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:

TimeAthleteCountryDateLocation
14:36.6Hannes Kolehmainen  FinlandJuly 10, 1912Stockholm, Sweden 
14:35.4Paavo Nurmi  FinlandSeptember 12, 1922Stockholm, Sweden 
14:28.2Paavo Nurmi  FinlandJune 19, 1924Helsinki, Finland 
14:17.0Lauri Lehtinen  FinlandJune 19, 1932Helsinki, Finland 
14:08.8Taisto Mäki  FinlandJune 16, 1939Helsinki, Finland 
13:58.2Gunder Hägg SwedenSeptember 20, 1942Gothenburg, Sweden 
13:57.2Emil Zátopek CzechoslovakiaMay 30, 1954Paris, France 
13:56.6Vladimir Kuts RussiaAugust 29, 1954Bern, Switzerland 
13:51.6Chris Chataway  Great BritainOctober 13, 1954London, United Kingdom 
13:51.2Vladimir Kuts RussiaOctober 23, 1954Prague, Czechoslovakia 
13:50.8Sandor Iharos  HungarySeptember 10, 1955Budapest, Hungary 
13:46.8Vladimir Kuts RussiaSeptember 18, 1955Belgrad, Yugoslavia 
13:40.6Sandor Iharos  HungaryOctober 23, 1955Budapest, Hungary 
13:36.8Gordon Pirie  Great BritainJune 19, 1956Bergen, Norway 
13:35.0Vladimir Kuts RussiaOctober 13, 1957Rome, Italy 
13:34.8Ron Clarke  AustraliaJanuary 16, 1965Hobart, Australia 
13:33.6Ron Clarke  AustraliaFebruary 1, 1965Auckland, New Zealand 
13:25.8Ron Clarke  AustraliaJune 4, 1965Compton, USA 
13:24.2Kipchoge Keino  KenyaNovember 30, 1965Auckland, New Zealand 
13:16.6Ron Clarke  AustraliaJuly 5, 1966Stockholm, Sweden 
13:16.4Lasse Virén  FinlandSeptember 14, 1972Helsinki, Finland 
13:13.0Emiel PuttemansBelgiumSeptember 20, 1972Brussels, Belgium 
13:12.9Dick Quax  New ZealandJuly 5, 1977Stockholm, Sweden 
13:08.4Henry Rono  KenyaApril 8, 1978Berkeley, California, USA 
13:06.2Henry Rono  KenyaSeptember 13, 1981Knarvik, Norway 
13:00.4David Moorcroft  Great BritainJuly 7, 1982Oslo, Norway 
13:00.4Saïd Aouita  MoroccoJuly 22, 1985Oslo, Norway 
12:58.4Saïd Aouita  MoroccoJuly 27, 1987Rome, Italy 
12:57.0Haile Gebrselassie  EthiopiaJune 4, 1994Hengelo, Netherlands 
12:55.3Moses Kiptanui  KenyaJune 8, 1995Rome, Italy 
12:44.4Haile Gebrselassie  EthiopiaAugust 16, 1995Zürich, Switzerland 
12:41.9Haile Gebrselassie  EthiopiaAugust 13, 1997Zürich, Switzerland 
12:39.7Daniel Komen  KenyaAugust 22, 1997Brussels, Belgium 
12:39.4Haile Gebrselassie  EthiopiaJune 13, 1998Helsinki, Finland 
12:37.4Kenenisa Bekele  EthiopiaMay 31, 2004Hengelo, Netherlands 
12:35.4Joshua CheptegeiUgandaAugust 14, 2020Monaco
Runners running hard on a track.

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:6https://web.archive.org/web/20110629134819/http://www.iaaf.org/mm/document/competitions/competition/05/15/63/20090706014834_httppostedfile_p345-688_11303.pdf

TimeAthleteCountryDateLocation
15:14.5Paula Fudge  Great BritainSeptember 13, 1981Knarvik, Norway 
15:13.2Anne AudainNew ZealandMarch 17, 1982Auckland, New Zealand 
15:08.3Mary Tabb  United StatesJune 5, 1982Eugene, Oregon, United States 
15:01.8Zola Budd South AfricaJanuary 5, 1984Stellenbosch, South Africa 
14:58.9Ingrid KristiansenNorwayJune 28, 1984Oslo, Norway 
14:48.1Zola Budd  Great BritainAugust 26, 1985London, United Kingdom 
14:37.3Ingrid Kristiansen NorwayAugust 5, 1986Stockholm, Sweden 
14:36.5Fernanda Ribeiro  PortugalJuly 22, 1995Hechtel, Belgium 
14:31.3Dong Yanmei  ChinaOctober 21, 1997Shanghai, China 
14:28.1Jiang Bo  ChinaOctober 23, 1997Shanghai, China 
14:24.7Elvan Abeylegesse  TurkeyJune 11, 2004Bergen, Norway 
14:24.5Meseret Defar  EthiopiaJune 3, 2006New York, United States 
14:16.6Meseret Defar  EthiopiaJune 15, 2007Oslo, Norway 
14:11.2Tirunesh Dibaba  EthiopiaJune 6, 2008Oslo, Norway 
14:06.6Letesenbet Gidey  EthiopiaOctober 7, 2020Valencia, Spain 
A runner on a track.

What Is the Fastest High School 5K Time?

According to Track and Field News, the fastest 5K run high school time is held by Galen Rupp of Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon.7Boys High School Records – Track & Field News. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2024, from https://trackandfieldnews.com/records/boys-high-school-records/

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.8Girls High School Records. (n.d.). Track & Field News. https://trackandfieldnews.com/records/girls-high-school-records/

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.

Runners running hard on a track.

It is much harder to find the 5K race 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.9Watch Newbury Park lead 4 runners breaking high school 5k national record at Garmin RunningLane | World-Track and Field News and Results. (n.d.). World-Track.org. Retrieved April 11, 2024, from https://world-track.org/2021/12/watch-newbury-park-lead-4-runners-breaking-high-school-5k-national-record-at-garmin-runninglane/

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.

Runners running hard on a track.

References

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.

2 thoughts on “What Is The Fastest 5K Time Ever?: 5K World Records Explored”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.