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.


-2:03:06Moses Mosop(KEN)Boston 2011
12:03:46Guye Adola(ETH)Berlin 2017
22:04:02Leul Gebrselassie(ETH)Dubai 2018
32:04:15Berhanu Legesse(ETH)Dubai 2018
42:04:16Dennis Kimetto(KEN)Berlin 2012
52:04:23Ayele Abshero(ETH)Dubai 2012
62:04:32Tsegaye Mekonnen(ETH)Dubai 2014
72:04:45Lelisa Desisa(ETH)Dubai 2013
82:04:53Bernard Koech(KEN)Dubai 2013
92:05:04Kenenisa Bekele(ETH)Paris 2014
102:05:27Tilahun Regassa(ETH)Chicago 2012
112:05:30Eliud Kipchoge(KEN)Hamburg 2013
122:05:50Evans Rutto(KEN)Chicago 2003
132:05:54*Sammy Kitwara*(KEN)Chicago 2012
142:06:05Laban Korir(KEN)Amsterdam 2011
152:06:07Erick Ndiema(KEN)Amsterdam 2011
162:06:12Geoffrey Kipsang(KEN)Berlin 2012
172:06:12Wilson Chebet(KEN)Amsterdam 2010
182:06:14Patrick Makau(KEN)Rotterdam 2009
192:06:15Bazu Worku(ETH)Paris 2009
202:06:16Mark Kiptoo(KEN)Frankfurt 2013

Debuts of other notable athletes

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


12:18:56Paula Radcliffe(GBR)London 2002
22:19:34Lucy Kabuu(KEN)Dubai 2012
32:19:44*Florence Kiplagat*(KEN)Berlin 2011
42:20:03Gladys Cherono(KEN)Dubai 2015
52:20:13Haftamnesh Tesfay(ETH)Dubai 2018
62:20:35Tirunesh Dibaba(ETH)London 2014
72:20:48Amane Beriso(ETH)Dubai 2016
82:20:59Shure Demissie(ETH)Dubai 2015
92:21:01Meselech Melkamu(ETH)Frankfurt 2012
102:21:36Yuka Ando(JPN)Nagoya 2017
112:21:45Dera Dida(ETH)Dubai 2018
122:21:51Naoko Sakamoto(JPN)Osaka 2003
132:22:09Ejegayehu Dibaba(ETH)Chicago 2011
142:22:19Gete Wami(ETH)Amsterdam 2002
152:22:36Worknesh Degefa(ETH)Dubai 2017
162:22:36Ruth Chepngetich(KEN)Istanbul 2017
172:23:00Jordan Hasay(USA)Boston 2017
182:23:02Tadelech Bekele(ETH)Berlin 2014
192:23:09Bezunesh Bekele(ETH)Dubai 2008
202:23:11Yoko Shibui(JPN)Osaka 2001

Debuts of other notable athletes

2:23:50Vivian Cheruiyot(KEN)London 2017
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.


  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 🙂

  3. Jason Robletto says: November 23, 2015 • 19:18:17

    You must’ve accidentally omitted my debut marathon in 2002 of 2:05:14. Oh, wait… that was a half marathon.

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