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!
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.
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.
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:
|1:07:01||Brian Hill-Cottingham||United Kingdom||April 9, 1960||Romford|
|1:05:44||Ron Hill||United Kingdom||June 19, 1965||Freckleton|
|1:05:42||Pete Ravald||United Kingdom||June 18, 1966||Freckleton|
|1:03:53||Derek Graham||United Kingdom||May 2, 1970||Belfast|
|1:03:46||Juan Rafael Angel Perez||Costa Rica||February 8, 1976||Coamo|
|1:03:46||Jose Reveyn||Belgium||March 27, 1976||The Hague|
|1:02:57||Miruts Yifter||Ethiopia||February 6, 1977||Coamo|
|1:02:37||Toshihiro Matsumoto||Japan||February 6, 1977||Beppu, Ōita|
|1:02:47||Tony Simmons||United Kingdom||June 24, 1978||Welwyn Garden City|
|1:02:36||Nick Rose||United Kingdom||October 14, 1979||Dayton|
|1:02:32||Kirk Pfeffer||United States||December 7, 1979||Las Vegas|
|1:02:16||Stan Mavis||United States||January 27, 1980||New Orleans|
|1:01:47||Herb Lindsay||United States||September 20, 1981||Manchester, Vermont|
|1:01:36||Michael Musyoki||Kenya||September 19, 1982||Philadelphia|
|1:01:32||Paul Cummings||United States||September 25, 1983||Dayton|
|1:01:14||Stephen Jones||United Kingdom||August 11, 1985||Birmingham|
|1:00:55||Mark Curp||United States||September 15, 1985||Philadelphia|
|1:00:46||Dionicio Cerón||Mexico||September 16, 1990||Philadelphia|
|1:00:24||Benson Masya||Kenya||April 3, 1993||The Hague|
|1:00:13||Paul Tergat||Kenya||April 15, 1993||Milan|
|59:56:00||Shem Kororia||Kenya||October 4, 1997||Košice|
|59:17:00||Paul Tergat||Kenya||April 4, 1998||Milan|
|59:16:00||Samuel Wanjiru||Kenya||September 11, 2005||Rotterdam|
|58:55:00||Haile Gebrselassie||Ethiopia||January 15, 2006||Tempe|
|59:07:00||Paul Malakwen Kosgei||Kenya||April 2, 2006||Berlin|
|58:53:00||Samuel Wanjiru||Kenya||February 9, 2007||Ras al-Khaimah|
|58:33:00||Samuel Wanjiru||Kenya||March 17, 2007||The Hague|
|58:23:00||Zersenay Tadese||Eritrea||March 21, 2010||Lisbon|
|58:01:00||Geoffrey Kamworor||Kenya||September 15, 2019||Copenhagen|
|57:32:00||Kibiwott Kandie||Kenya||December 6, 2020||Valencia|
|57:31:00||Jacob Kiplimo||Uganda||November 21, 2021||Lisbon|
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.
|1:23:56||Kathy Gibbons||United States||March 7, 1971||Phoenix, Arizona|
|1:23:11||Chantal Langlacé||France||September 8, 1974||Aÿ-Champagne|
|1:22:05||Silvana Cruciata||Italy||April 3, 1977||Milan|
|1:19:45||Marja Wokke||Netherlands||January 8, 1978||Egmond aan Zee|
|1:18:44||Silvana Cruciata||Italy||April 16, 1978||Milan|
|1:18:30||Jean Abare||United States||July 4, 1978||Coronado, California|
|1:17:48||Daniele Justin||Belgium||November 12, 1978||Nazaré, Portugal|
|1:15:58||Michiko Gorman||United States||November 19, 1978||Pasadena|
|1:15:01||Ellison Goodall||United States||March 10, 1979||Winston-Salem|
|1:14:04||Patti Catalano||United States||September 23, 1979||Manchester, Vermont|
|1:13:59||Marja Wokke||Netherlands||March 29, 1980||The Hague|
|1:13:26||Joan Benoit||United States||January 18, 1981||New Orleans|
|1:11:16||Joan Benoit||United States||March 7, 1981||San Diego|
|1:09:57||Grete Waitz||Norway||May 15, 1982||Gothenburg|
|1:09:14||Joan Benoit||United States||September 18, 1983||Philadelphia|
|1:08:34||Joan Benoit||United States||September 16, 1984||Philadelphia|
|1:08:32||Ingrid Kristiansen||Norway||March 19, 1989||New Bedford|
|1:07:59||Elana Meyer||South Africa||May 18, 1991||East London|
|1:07:59||Uta Pippig||Germany||March 20, 1994||Kyoto|
|1:07:58||Uta Pippig||Germany||March 19, 1995||Kyoto|
|1:07:36||Elana Meyer||South Africa||March 9, 1997||Kyoto|
|1:07:29||Elana Meyer||South Africa||March 8, 1998||Kyoto|
|1:06:44||Elana Meyer||South Africa||January 15, 1999||Tokyo|
|1:05:40||Paula Radcliffe||United Kingdom||September 21, 2003||South Shields|
|1:06:25 (women only)||Lornah Kiplagat||Netherlands||October 14, 2007||World RR Champs, Udine|
|1:05:50 (mixed gender race)||Mary Keitany||Kenya||February 18, 2011||Ras al-Khaimah|
|1:05:12 (mixed gender race)||Florence Kiplagat||Kenya||February 16, 2014||Barcelona|
|1:05:09 (mixed gender race)||Florence Kiplagat||Kenya||February 15, 2015||Barcelona|
|1:05:06 (mixed gender race)||Peres Jepchirchir||Kenya||February 10, 2017||Ras al-Khaimah|
|1:04:52 (mixed gender race)||Joyciline Jepkosgei||Kenya||April 1, 2017||Prague|
|1:04:51 (mixed gender race)||Joyciline Jepkosgei||Kenya||October 22, 2017||Valencia|
|1:06:11 (women only)||Netsanet Gudeta||Ethiopia||March 24, 2018||World HM Champs, Valencia|
|1:04:31 (mixed gender race)||Ababel Yeshaneh||Ethiopia||February 21, 2020||Ras al-Khaimah|
|1:05:34 (women only)||Peres Jepchirchir||Kenya||September 5, 2020||Prague|
|1:05:16 (women only)||Peres Jepchirchir||Kenya||October 17, 2020||Gdynia|
|1:04:02 (mixed gender race)||Ruth Chepngetich||Kenya||April 4, 2021||Istanbul|
|1:03:44 (mixed gender race)||Yalemzerf Yehuala||Ethiopia||August 29, 2021||Larne|
|1:02:52 (mixed gender race)||Letesenbet Gidey||Ethiopia||October 24, 2021||Valencia|
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!