These are the top 20 debut marathons in history. Strictly speaking, some athletes listed below may have started previous marathons and failed to finish. But “fastest time achieved in the first marathon they completed” wasn’t really a catchy title, so I’m sticking with the word debut. Either way, I’ve marked such athletes with an asterisk.

I’ve also included Moses Mosop’s time in the list, but only really for reference as it was set on Boston’s point-to-point course.

What’s striking is how recent most of these are, especially on the men’s side. All but one of the men’s top-20 debuts have been achieved in the past four years and the top six times (exluding Mosop) have all been set between 2012-2013.

When Gebrselassie ran 2:06:35 in 2002, that was the fastest debut in history at that time. Now, it’s not even fast enough to make it into the top 20.

There is more of a spread in the women’s list, in terms of both times and the years in which they were achieved. Also, many of the recent marathon stars had unremarkable debuts before hitting the big time a few years later. Olympic champion Tiki Gelana ran 2:33:49 in her first marathon in 2009, then won the Olympic title just three years later. Two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat clocked just 2:50:20 in her first race over the classic distance, while former London Marathon winner Mary Keitany only just sneaked inside 2:30 on her debut.

As ever, any additions and corrections are welcome. I’ll try to keep this page updated as often as I can, as I always seem to struggle to find a definitive source of the fastest debut marathons.

Men

Pos
Time
Athlete
Country
Marathon
-2:03:06Moses Mosop(KEN)Boston 2011
12:04:16Dennis Kimetto(KEN)Berlin 2012
22:04:23Ayele Abshero(ETH)Dubai 2012
32:04:32Tsegaye Mekonnen(ETH)Dubai 2014
42:04:45Lelisa Desisa(ETH)Dubai 2013
52:04:53Bernard Koech(KEN)Dubai 2013
62:05:04Kenenisa Bekele(ETH)Paris 2014
72:05:27Tilahun Regassa(ETH)Chicago 2012
82:05:30Eliud Kipchoge(KEN)Hamburg 2013
92:05:50Evans Rutto(KEN)Chicago 2003
102:05:54*Sammy Kitwara*(KEN)Chicago 2012
112:06:05Laban Korir(KEN)Amsterdam 2011
122:06:07Erick Ndiema(KEN)Amsterdam 2011
132:06:12Geoffrey Kipsang(KEN)Berlin 2012
132:06:12Wilson Chebet(KEN)Amsterdam 2010
152:06:14Patrick Makau(KEN)Rotterdam 2009
162:06:15Bazu Worku(ETH)Paris 2009
172:06:16Mark Kiptoo(KEN)Frankfurt 2013
182:06:17Tamirat Tola(ETH)Dubai 2014
192:06:18Gilbert Yegon(KEN)Amsterdam 2009
202:06:21Abrha Gebretsadik(ETH)Amsterdam 2012

Debuts of other notable athletes

Time
Athlete
Country
Marathon
2:06:35Haile Gebrselassie(ETH)London 2002
2:06:39Samuel Wanjiru(KEN)Fukuoka 2007
2:07:10Khalid Khannouchi(USA)Chicago 1997
2:07:13Wilson Kipsang(KEN)Paris 2010
2:07:20Stephen Kiprotich(UGA)Enschede 2011
2:08:15Paul Tergat(KEN)London 2001
2:08:21Mo Farah(GBR)London 2014
2:09:07Ronaldo da Costa(BRA)Berlin 1997
2:17:47Abel Kirui(KEN)Berlin 2006

Women

Pos
Time
Athlete
Country
Marathon
12:18:56Paula Radcliffe(GBR)London 2002
22:19:34*Lucy Kabuu*(KEN)Dubai 2012
32:19:44*Florence Kiplagat*(KEN)Berlin 2011
42:20:35Tirunesh Dibaba(ETH)London 2014
52:21:01Meselech Melkamu(ETH)Frankfurt 2012
62:21:51Naoko Sakamoto(JPN)Osaka 2003
72:22:09Ejegayehu Dibaba(ETH)Chicago 2011
82:22:19Gete Wami(ETH)Amsterdam 2002
92:23:02Tadelech Bekele(ETH)Berlin 2014
102:23:09Bezunesh Bekele(ETH)Dubai 2008
112:23:11Yoko Shibui(JPN)Osaka 2001
122:23:30Mari Ozaki(JPN)Osaka 2003
132:23:37Liu Min(CHN)Beijing 2001
142:23:44Catherina McKiernan(IRL)Berlin 1997
152:24:07Wang Junxia(CHN)Tianjin 1993
162:24:18Teyba Erkesso(ETH)Houston 2009
172:24:19Yumiko Hara(JPN)Nagoya 2005
182:24:20Philes Ongori(KEN)Rotterdam 2011
192:24:21Flomena Chepchirchir(KEN)Frankfurt 2011
202:24:24Liliya Shobukhova(RUS)London 2009

Debuts of other notable athletes

Time
Athlete
Country
Marathon
2:24:51Irina Mikitenko(GER)Berlin 2007
2:25:35Mizuki Noguchi(JPN)Nagoya 2002
2:26:00Margaret Okayo(KEN)Chicago 1999
2:26:58Deena Kastor(USA)New York 2001
2:27:37Tegla Loroupe(KEN)New York 1994
2:28:27Catherine Ndereba(KEN)Boston 1999
2:29:01Mary Keitany(KEN)New York 2010
2:33:49Tiki Gelana(ETH)Dublin 2009
2:50:20Edna Kiplagat(KEN)Las Vegas 2005

* This was their first completed marathon. They had previously attempted another marathon but failed to finish.

2 Comments

  1. Bill Bell says: October 27, 2013 • 23:33:09

    how about Eliud Kipchoge’s 2L05.30 from Hamburg last April 21 where he won?

    Not listed,

  2. Jon Mulkeen says: October 28, 2013 • 08:18:23

    It was on there originally, but I was then informed that he ran 2:12:17 in Kisumu in 2009 so I took him off. It turns out that performance belongs to Eliud Kiptanui, so I’ll take Kiptanui off and ‘reinstate’ Kipchoge on to the list :-)

Leave a comment