Runners tend to be competitive by nature, and even if you don’t like to enter races yourself (or even if you don’t like running at all!), it is still fun to look at running records and see who is the fastest runner in the world.
So, who is the fastest person in the world in 2023? Who is the fastest man in the world? Who is the fastest woman in the world? Who are the fastest sprinters in the world ever?
In this guide to who is the fastest person in the world, we will take a look at the sprinting world records and determine not only the fastest person in the world but the fastest woman in the world, the fastest man in the world, and fastest runners in the world for sprinting distances.
We will cover:
- Who Is The Fastest Person In The World?
- Who Is the Fastest Man In the World?
- Who Is the Fastest Woman In the World?
- Who Are the Fastest People In the World?
Let’s dive in!
Who Is The Fastest Person In The World?
When determining the fastest person in the world, there are actually a few different ways to approach the question:
- Who was the fastest person in the world ever?
- Who is the fastest person in the world currently (Who is the fastest person in the world in 2023)?
Ultimately, answering the first question is a matter of looking at the running world records or the all-time list of 100m race best performances to find the 100m world record for men (since men’s 100m world record is faster than the women’s 100m world record).
Answering the second question is a similar process, although instead of looking at the all-time best performances for the 100m sprint, we have to look at the fastest 2023, 100m performances to see who is currently the fastest person in the world.
Although running world records are apt to change at any point, generally, breaking the all-time fastest 100m world record is much more difficult than shifting around who is the fastest person in the world right now based on 2023 performances.
All of this is to say that any time you are looking at crowning someone the “fastest man in the world“ or “fastest woman in the world,” it is important to consider the time frame (for example, “Who was fastest woman ever vs 2023 fastest women in the world?” (or some other year)).
Moreover, keep in mind that when you are trying to find the “2023 fastest person in the world,“ the fastest runner in the world is more liable to change based on the latest race results from big international track races.
With these important disclaimers and clarifications established, and determining the fastest person in the world is a process of looking at the sprinting world records, generally the 100m world record times for men and women.Ultimately, world records for the 100m sprint are the best source for determining the fastest person in the world because the shortest track distance (100m) yields the fastest running speed recorded in an official capacity.
Sprinting world records dating as far back as 1891 can be obtained, but the first official world record accepted for the 100m sprint comes from the 1912 performance of Donald Lippincott (100m in 10.6 seconds) since it wasn’t until 1912 that official running world records for sprints were established.
Therefore, we can say that in 1912, the fastest person in the world was Donald Lippincott.
However, as it has been over 100 years since the first world record 100m time was established, the world record for the 100-meter sprint has been broken many times, and thus the accolade for the “fastest runner in the world“ has been reassigned to different sprinters.
In fact, prior to 2009 when (spoiler alert!), Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke and established the current 100m world record for men; no men’s 100m world record had stood for more than three years and three months since 1987.
In other words, the fastest person in the world and the world record 100m for men were constantly changing, and the running world record books for the sprint distance were being rewritten every couple of years at most.
Who Is the Fastest Man In the World?
Fast forward to today, some 14 years later, and the fastest person in the world based on the all-time list is still Usain Bolt from Jamaica, who holds the men’s 100m world record in a blazing time of 9.58 seconds.
This works out to an average of 23.35 mph (37.58 km/h), which can be thought of as the “fastest human sprint speed.”
Note that while this is an impressive, fastest human sprinting speed as is, Usain Bolt actually clocked an amazing 27.78 mph (44.72 km/h) between meter 60 and meter 80 of the 100-meter sprint at the 2009 World Championships.
Thus, the “fastest person in the world“ ever is Usain Bolt, the current holder of 100m world record for men, but who is the fastest person in the world today?
For that answer, we can look at the World Athletics’ current list of top 2023 100m performances for men.
The fastest person in the world today, based on results from the best 2023 outdoor 100m times, is actually a three-way tie.
Sprinters Zharmel Hughes from Great Britain, Noah Lyles from the United States, and Christian Coleman from the US all posted a 100m time of 9.83 seconds in 2023 (though the wind speeds were different).
Thus, we can consider these three sprinters the fastest runners in the world today, though not of all time. You can find the list of the fastest men in the world based on the all-time fastest 100m times for men available here.
Who Is the Fastest Woman In the World?
This works out to an average running speed of 21.3 mph.
You can find the all-time list of the fastest women in the world based on the female 100m fastest times ever recorded here.
As with determining the fastest man in the world today, we can also look to answer the question: “Who is the fastest woman in the world today?
For that answer, we can again look at the World Athletics’ current list of top 2023 100m performances, but this time for women.
The woman person in the world today, based on results from the best 2023 outdoor 100m times, is actually a two-way tie.
Jamaican sprinter Shericka Jackson and American sprinter Sha’Carrri Richardson both posted a 100m time of 10.65 seconds (though the wind speeds were different).
Who Are the Fastest People In the World?
When trying to crown someone the “fastest runner in the world “ or make a note of the fastest man in the world or the fastest woman in the world, we tend to look to the 100m sprint records.
This is the shortest outdoor track distance contested, so the fastest running speeds are achieved during this event.
However, if you are a true fan of the sport of running and think about who the fastest person in the world is for different distances, you are likely most interested in the running world records for the primary running race distances from the 100m sprint up through the marathon.
In other words, while Usain Bolt may be the fastest person in the world based on his sprint speed and sprinting world record, if you want to know who is the fastest person in the world for long distances, you would be more keen to look at the marathon world record.
The marathon, which is 26.2 miles or about 42.16 km, is an endurance event, so the fastest marathoner may not have the same raw leg speed as the fastest sprinter but would be able to cover a long distance faster (say 10-30 miles) than a sprinter.
The current marathon world record holder for men is Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya, who ran 2:01:09 at the 2022 Berlin Marathon, and the fastest woman in the world for the marathon is Tiget Assefa of Ethiopia, who just shattered the women’s world record at the 2023 Berlin Marathon by running an astonishing 2:11:53.
You can find our complete list of running world records for men and women here.
These running world record tables will provide insight into the fastest runners in the world at each respective track or road running distance.
Although probably everyone in the world would love to set a sprinting world record or be crowned “the fastest runner in the world,“ we don’t all have the genetics, talent, body composition, and dedication to train to become the fastest sprinter in the world.
Remember, it’s absolutely possible to train your body to sprint faster. Check out some tips for how to sprint faster here.
Alternatively, if you like longer distances, you might consider improving your mile time. We have a great article with tips about how to run a faster mile here.
For even longer distances, check out some of our marathon training plans and tips for running a faster marathon here.
It’s never too late to improve upon your current running abilities, even if you may not break a world record!