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What’s The Fastest Half Marathon Time Ever? Progression Of The Half Marathon World Record

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The half marathon is now one of the most popular race distances—at least in the United States—falling second to only the 5k.

However, despite the high participation rates, and the relatively long history of the event being contested, the world record in the half marathon has only been officially recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) since January 1, 2004.

So what is the fastest half marathon time ever? What are the world records in the half marathon for men and women?

Keep reading to find out the fastest time for a half marathon ever run!

We will cover: 

  • How Far Is a Half Marathon?
  • What Is the Fastest Half Marathon Time Ever?
  • Men’s Half Marathon Record Progression
  • Women’s Half Marathon Record Progression

Let’s jump in!

Elite runners in a race.

How Far Is a Half Marathon?

Before we look at the fastest half marathon times ever run, let’s briefly cover the basics. The aptly-named half marathon is 21.0975 kilometers, or 13.1 miles (rounded down from 13.1094), which is exactly half the distance of a full marathon.

What Is the Fastest Half Marathon Time Ever?

According to World Athletics, the current fastest half marathon time for men, or the current standing half marathon world record for men, is 57:31, a blazing time set by Ugandan runner Jacob Kiplimo at the Lisbon Half Marathon on November 21, 2021. This works out to 4:23 per mile or 2:44 per kilometer.

The current fastest half marathon time for women, or the standing women’s half marathon world record, is 1:02:52, which is just a bit over five minutes slower than the men’s half marathon world record. This impressive record is held by Ethiopian runner Letesenbet Gidey and was set on October 24, 2021, at the Valencia Half Marathon in Spain.

The first half marathon races with the official half marathon distance of 21.0975 kilometers or 13.1094 miles were not really contested until the 1960s. 

Runners in a half marathon.

Prior to that, there were some races that were close to the half marathon distance, and runners, of course, covered the half marathon mark in full marathons, but there were no standalone official half marathon races.

Since the IAAF first officially recognized the half marathon in 2004, there have only been a total of five official men’s half marathon world records and six women’s half marathon records.

The first half marathon world record recognized by the IAAF for men was 65:44, a time set by Ron Hill in 1965, and the first IAAF-ratified half marathon world record for women was 75:04, set by Marty Cooksey in 1978.

Prior to 2004, the IAAF did not officially ratify the half marathon world record, but the fastest half marathon times were termed “world best“ half marathon performances.

Other organizations, namely the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS), did recognize half marathon world records prior to the official IAAF acceptance in 2004.

A half marathon race.

Men’s Half Marathon Record Progression 

The earliest half marathon world record for men recognized by the Association of Track and Field Statisticians was set by English runner Brian Hill-Cottingham in Romford, who ran 67:01 in 1960.

Based on data and records from the AARS, IAAF record logs, and World Athletics, the men’s half marathon world record progression (or half marathon best time progression) is shown in the table below:

TimeNameNationalityDateEvent/Place
1:07:01Brian Hill-CottinghamUnited KingdomApril 9, 1960Romford
1:05:44Ron HillUnited KingdomJune 19, 1965Freckleton
1:05:42Pete RavaldUnited KingdomJune 18, 1966Freckleton
1:03:53Derek GrahamUnited KingdomMay 2, 1970Belfast
1:03:46Juan Rafael Angel PerezCosta RicaFebruary 8, 1976Coamo
1:03:46Jose ReveynBelgiumMarch 27, 1976The Hague
1:02:57Miruts YifterEthiopiaFebruary 6, 1977Coamo
1:02:37Toshihiro MatsumotoJapanFebruary 6, 1977Beppu, Ōita
1:02:47Tony SimmonsUnited KingdomJune 24, 1978Welwyn Garden City
1:02:36Nick RoseUnited KingdomOctober 14, 1979Dayton
1:02:32Kirk PfefferUnited StatesDecember 7, 1979Las Vegas
1:02:16Stan MavisUnited StatesJanuary 27, 1980New Orleans
1:01:47Herb LindsayUnited StatesSeptember 20, 1981Manchester, Vermont
1:01:36Michael MusyokiKenyaSeptember 19, 1982Philadelphia
1:01:32Paul CummingsUnited StatesSeptember 25, 1983Dayton
1:01:14Stephen JonesUnited KingdomAugust 11, 1985Birmingham
1:00:55Mark CurpUnited StatesSeptember 15, 1985Philadelphia
1:00:46Dionicio CerónMexicoSeptember 16, 1990Philadelphia
1:00:24Benson MasyaKenyaApril 3, 1993The Hague
1:00:13Paul TergatKenyaApril 15, 1993Milan
59:56:00Shem KororiaKenyaOctober 4, 1997Košice
59:17:00Paul TergatKenyaApril 4, 1998Milan
59:16:00Samuel WanjiruKenyaSeptember 11, 2005Rotterdam
58:55:00Haile GebrselassieEthiopiaJanuary 15, 2006Tempe
59:07:00Paul Malakwen KosgeiKenyaApril 2, 2006Berlin
58:53:00Samuel WanjiruKenyaFebruary 9, 2007Ras al-Khaimah
58:33:00Samuel WanjiruKenyaMarch 17, 2007The Hague
58:23:00Zersenay TadeseEritreaMarch 21, 2010Lisbon
58:01:00Geoffrey KamwororKenyaSeptember 15, 2019Copenhagen
57:32:00Kibiwott KandieKenyaDecember 6, 2020Valencia
57:31:00Jacob KiplimoUgandaNovember 21, 2021Lisbon
A strong runner.

Women’s Half Marathon Record Progression 

The earliest half marathon world record for women recognized by the AARS was set by American runner Kathy Gibbons in Phoebus, Arizona, who finished the race in a time of 83:56.

Based on data and records from the AARS, IAAF record logs, and World Athletics, the women’s half marathon world record progression (or women’s half marathon best time progression) is shown in the table below.

Note that the IAAF also keeps a separate category of half marathon world records for women when running without pacers in “women-only” races.

TimeNameNationalityDateEvent/Place
1:23:56Kathy GibbonsUnited StatesMarch 7, 1971Phoenix, Arizona
1:23:11Chantal LanglacéFranceSeptember 8, 1974Aÿ-Champagne
1:22:05Silvana CruciataItalyApril 3, 1977Milan
1:19:45Marja WokkeNetherlandsJanuary 8, 1978Egmond aan Zee
1:18:44Silvana CruciataItalyApril 16, 1978Milan
1:18:30Jean AbareUnited StatesJuly 4, 1978Coronado, California
1:17:48Daniele JustinBelgiumNovember 12, 1978Nazaré, Portugal
1:15:58Michiko GormanUnited StatesNovember 19, 1978Pasadena
1:15:01Ellison GoodallUnited StatesMarch 10, 1979Winston-Salem
1:14:04Patti CatalanoUnited StatesSeptember 23, 1979Manchester, Vermont
1:13:59Marja WokkeNetherlandsMarch 29, 1980The Hague
1:13:26Joan BenoitUnited StatesJanuary 18, 1981New Orleans
1:11:16Joan BenoitUnited StatesMarch 7, 1981San Diego
1:09:57Grete WaitzNorwayMay 15, 1982Gothenburg
1:09:14Joan BenoitUnited StatesSeptember 18, 1983Philadelphia
1:08:34Joan BenoitUnited StatesSeptember 16, 1984Philadelphia
1:08:32Ingrid KristiansenNorwayMarch 19, 1989New Bedford
1:07:59Elana MeyerSouth AfricaMay 18, 1991East London
1:07:59Uta PippigGermanyMarch 20, 1994Kyoto
1:07:58Uta PippigGermanyMarch 19, 1995Kyoto
1:07:36Elana MeyerSouth AfricaMarch 9, 1997Kyoto
1:07:29Elana MeyerSouth AfricaMarch 8, 1998Kyoto
1:06:44Elana MeyerSouth AfricaJanuary 15, 1999Tokyo
1:05:40Paula RadcliffeUnited KingdomSeptember 21, 2003South Shields
1:06:25 (women only)Lornah KiplagatNetherlandsOctober 14, 2007World RR Champs, Udine
1:05:50 (mixed gender race)Mary KeitanyKenyaFebruary 18, 2011Ras al-Khaimah
1:05:12 (mixed gender race)Florence KiplagatKenyaFebruary 16, 2014Barcelona
1:05:09 (mixed gender race)Florence KiplagatKenyaFebruary 15, 2015Barcelona
1:05:06 (mixed gender race)Peres JepchirchirKenyaFebruary 10, 2017Ras al-Khaimah
1:04:52 (mixed gender race)Joyciline JepkosgeiKenyaApril 1, 2017Prague
1:04:51 (mixed gender race)Joyciline JepkosgeiKenyaOctober 22, 2017Valencia
1:06:11 (women only)Netsanet GudetaEthiopiaMarch 24, 2018World HM Champs, Valencia
1:04:31 (mixed gender race)Ababel YeshanehEthiopiaFebruary 21, 2020Ras al-Khaimah
1:05:34 (women only)Peres JepchirchirKenyaSeptember 5, 2020Prague
1:05:16 (women only)Peres JepchirchirKenyaOctober 17, 2020Gdynia
1:04:02 (mixed gender race)Ruth ChepngetichKenyaApril 4, 2021Istanbul
1:03:44 (mixed gender race)Yalemzerf YehualaEthiopiaAugust 29, 2021Larne
1:02:52 (mixed gender race)Letesenbet GideyEthiopiaOctober 24, 2021Valencia

Do you think the fastest time for a half marathon for women and men will continue to improve? What do you think the limits will be? 

If you are interested in world records and the fastest race times run, check out our fastest marathon times guides here!

Marathon runners.
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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