What You Need To Know About The Women’s-Only World Record

And why it matters so much at this year's London Marathon


We’ll be on-site at the 2024 London Marathon to bring you live updates beginning at 8:00 a.m. GMT on Sunday, April 21. Find our live updates on our homepage on race morning.

In 2011, the world governing body for track and field, World Athletics, then IAAF, made a significant decision regarding women’s road racing records: they would only recognize records set in women-only events. 

Today, we have now come to know two records for women: the “women’s-only” world records and the “mixed” women’s world records.

What You Need To Know About The Women's-Only World Record 1

Women’s-only world records can only be set in events in which there are no men on the course. Since most marathons take place with men and women on course at the same time, there are much fewer opportunities for women to actually break the women’s-only world record.

Mixed-gender women’s records, as you now may have guessed, can be set in races where women are racing with men as well.

This decision to have a true “women’s-only” record was made to eliminate any advantage gained from pacing by faster male runners, a factor present in certain mixed-gender races like marathons, half-marathons, and 10K road events.

What You Need To Know About The Women's-Only World Record 2

Why Does All This Matter Right Now?

Tomorrow is the 2024 TCS London Marathon, and in case you’ve missed it, the women’s field is stacked.

Toeing the line are current mixed world record holder Tigist Assefa (2:11:53), former world record holder Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04), reigning Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir (2:17:16), and former world champion and four-time Majors medalist Ruth Chepngetich (2:14:18), to name just a few.

The London Marathon is also one of the few opportunities for women to run alone, without any men on course. The women will set off at 9:00 a.m. GMT, and the men will not begin for another 40 minutes, taking off at 9:40 a.m. GMT.

With the deepest field in the event’s history and an opportunity to run a women’s-only record, it’s highly likely we’ll see history rewrite itself tomorrow.

What You Need To Know About The Women's-Only World Record 3

What Should You Watch For Tomorrow?

The current women’s-only record sits at 2:17:01 and is held by Kenya’s Mary Keitany, who set it at the 2017 London Marathon.

To put it into perspective, just how strong the women’s field is tomorrow, five of the elite women already hold personal bests under Keitany’s world record.

If you’re tuning in tomorrow, you’ll want to keep an eye on the 5K splits the women are running. 

To run a 2:17:00 marathon, just one second under the world record, they’ll need to be splitting their 5K at 16:14.05.

You can check out the handy table below to see each split and its respective cumulative time.

Split DistanceSplit TimeTotal DistanceTotal Time

So, will we be celebrating a new world record tomorrow?

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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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