Which Course Is Most Likely To See The Next Marathon World Record?

Could it be a repeat in Chicago or maybe the flat roads of Rotterdam?

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The 2023 marathon season saw both the men’s and women’s marathon world records come falling down. But will 2024 produce even faster times, and if so, where?

At the Berlin Marathon in September, Ethiopia’s Tigst Assefa became the first woman to run under 2:12 (or 2:13 or 2:14 for that matter), and after setting a new world record, running 2:11:53. She took down Brigid Kosgei’s marathon world record, set at the 2019 Chicago Marathon, of 2:14:04.

Just a few weeks later, Kelvin Kiptum would set a new world record at the Chicago Marathon. The Kenyan completed the course in 2:00:35, breaking compatriot Eliud Kipchoge’s world record set at the 2022 Berlin Marathon of 2:01:09.

Let’s take a look at the courses where we’re most likely to see the next marathon world record. 

Which Course Is Most Likely To See The Next Marathon World Record? 1

Berlin Marathon

Berlin has already been the stage for several marathon world records, thanks to its flat and fast course.

With a route that minimizes elevation changes and often has favorable weather conditions in September, the course provides runners with an ideal setting to chase down the world record. 

The former men’s marathon world record was set in Berlin in 2022 by Eliud Kipchoge, and the city has proven time and time again to be a record-breaking haven, as Kipchoge has set more than one world record on the course.

London Marathon

The London Marathon is renowned for its scenic route, winding through the historic streets of the British capital. 

The relatively flat course, combined with the support of enthusiastic crowds, makes it a prime location for record attempts. 

At this year’s edition, the current marathon world record-holder, Kelvin Kiptum, showcased just how fast the London Marathon course can be. The Kenyan set a new course record of 2:01:25, just 16 seconds off the world record at the time (2:01:09).

kelvin kiptum crossing chicago marathon finish line
Chicago Marathon 2023

Chicago Marathon

Despite its moniker, the Chicago Marathon is often graced with favorable weather conditions, and the course has seen some quick times. 

The city’s nickname, the “Windy City,” might not be a disadvantage for runners – a well-timed tailwind along Lake Michigan could propel them to record-breaking speeds. 

The current men’s marathon world record was set at this year’s Chicago Marathon. Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum shattered the previous world record of 2:01:09 set by Eliud Kipchoge when he crossed the line in 2:00:35.

The Chicago Marathon has seen other records before, and the city’s wind might just be the extra push needed for the next breakthrough.

Valencia Marathon

Valencia has been known as a go-to destination for fast marathon times. 

The course is renowned for its flatness and scenic beauty, taking runners through the city’s historic streets. 

The favorable climate in December, with mild temperatures and low humidity, provides an ideal environment for marathon racing. 

The recent successes of the Valencia Marathon, including a new course record at the most recent edition, set by Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma after running 2:01:48.

The 2023 edition also saw a new Masters marathon world record, set by three-time Olympic gold medalist Kenenisa Bekele, when he ran 2:01:19. This further highlights the potential for this Spanish course to become the site of the next marathon world record. 

With its winning combination of a fast course and pleasant weather, Valencia is poised to attract top-tier athletes aiming for the ultimate achievement in marathon running.

2023 TCS London Marathon - Elite men race - Kenenisa Bekele (2)
Photo Credit: Katie Chan

Rotterdam Marathon

The Netherlands is notorious for being flat and windy. Like the Chicago Marathon, this could be advantageous for runners if they pick up a tailwind on race day.

The Rotterdam Marathon does not only have the potential to be a record-breaking event for its favorable course but also now that current marathon world-record holder Kelvin Kiptum has announced that he will make the event his target spring marathon.

With Kelvin Kiptum having only run three marathons in his career, and improving upon his time in each, there is no doubt that the world record could come falling at the 2024 Rotterdam Marathon.

Where Do You Think The Next Marathon World Record Will Come From?

As we speculate on the next marathon world record, these courses present enticing opportunities for elite athletes to etch their names into the history books. 

Whether it’s the flat and fast tracks of Berlin, Rotterdam, and Valencia or the unique settings of Chicago and London, the quest for the next record continues, and each course offers its own blend of challenges and advantages. 

Only time will tell where the next marathon marvel will unfold.

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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