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.
|-||2:03:06||Moses Mosop||(KEN)||Boston 2011|
|1||2:03:46||Guye Adola||(ETH)||Berlin 2017|
|2||2:04:02||Leul Gebrselassie||(ETH)||Dubai 2018|
|3||2:04:15||Berhanu Legesse||(ETH)||Dubai 2018|
|4||2:04:16||Dennis Kimetto||(KEN)||Berlin 2012|
|5||2:04:23||Ayele Abshero||(ETH)||Dubai 2012|
|6||2:04:32||Tsegaye Mekonnen||(ETH)||Dubai 2014|
|7||2:04:45||Lelisa Desisa||(ETH)||Dubai 2013|
|8||2:04:53||Bernard Koech||(KEN)||Dubai 2013|
|9||2:05:04||Kenenisa Bekele||(ETH)||Paris 2014|
|10||2:05:27||Tilahun Regassa||(ETH)||Chicago 2012|
|11||2:05:30||Eliud Kipchoge||(KEN)||Hamburg 2013|
|12||2:05:50||Evans Rutto||(KEN)||Chicago 2003|
|13||2:05:54*||Sammy Kitwara*||(KEN)||Chicago 2012|
|14||2:06:05||Laban Korir||(KEN)||Amsterdam 2011|
|15||2:06:07||Erick Ndiema||(KEN)||Amsterdam 2011|
|16||2:06:12||Geoffrey Kipsang||(KEN)||Berlin 2012|
|17||2:06:12||Wilson Chebet||(KEN)||Amsterdam 2010|
|18||2:06:14||Patrick Makau||(KEN)||Rotterdam 2009|
|19||2:06:15||Bazu Worku||(ETH)||Paris 2009|
|20||2:06:16||Mark Kiptoo||(KEN)||Frankfurt 2013|
Debuts of other notable athletes
|2:06:35||Haile Gebrselassie||(ETH)||London 2002|
|2:06:39||Samuel Wanjiru||(KEN)||Fukuoka 2007|
|2:07:10||Khalid Khannouchi||(USA)||Chicago 1997|
|2:07:13||Wilson Kipsang||(KEN)||Paris 2010|
|2:07:20||Stephen Kiprotich||(UGA)||Enschede 2011|
|2:08:15||Paul Tergat||(KEN)||London 2001|
|2:08:21||Mo Farah||(GBR)||London 2014|
|2:09:07||Ronaldo da Costa||(BRA)||Berlin 1997|
|2:17:47||Abel Kirui||(KEN)||Berlin 2006|
|1||2:18:56||Paula Radcliffe||(GBR)||London 2002|
|2||2:19:34||Lucy Kabuu||(KEN)||Dubai 2012|
|3||2:19:44*||Florence Kiplagat*||(KEN)||Berlin 2011|
|4||2:20:03||Gladys Cherono||(KEN)||Dubai 2015|
|5||2:20:13||Haftamnesh Tesfay||(ETH)||Dubai 2018|
|6||2:20:35||Tirunesh Dibaba||(ETH)||London 2014|
|7||2:20:48||Amane Beriso||(ETH)||Dubai 2016|
|8||2:20:59||Shure Demissie||(ETH)||Dubai 2015|
|9||2:21:01||Meselech Melkamu||(ETH)||Frankfurt 2012|
|10||2:21:36||Yuka Ando||(JPN)||Nagoya 2017|
|11||2:21:45||Dera Dida||(ETH)||Dubai 2018|
|12||2:21:51||Naoko Sakamoto||(JPN)||Osaka 2003|
|13||2:22:09||Ejegayehu Dibaba||(ETH)||Chicago 2011|
|14||2:22:19||Gete Wami||(ETH)||Amsterdam 2002|
|15||2:22:36||Worknesh Degefa||(ETH)||Dubai 2017|
|16||2:22:36||Ruth Chepngetich||(KEN)||Istanbul 2017|
|17||2:23:00||Jordan Hasay||(USA)||Boston 2017|
|18||2:23:02||Tadelech Bekele||(ETH)||Berlin 2014|
|19||2:23:09||Bezunesh Bekele||(ETH)||Dubai 2008|
|20||2:23:11||Yoko Shibui||(JPN)||Osaka 2001|
Debuts of other notable athletes
|2:23:50||Vivian Cheruiyot||(KEN)||London 2017|
|2:24:51||Irina Mikitenko||(GER)||Berlin 2007|
|2:25:35||Mizuki Noguchi||(JPN)||Nagoya 2002|
|2:26:00||Margaret Okayo||(KEN)||Chicago 1999|
|2:26:58||Deena Kastor||(USA)||New York 2001|
|2:27:37||Tegla Loroupe||(KEN)||New York 1994|
|2:28:27||Catherine Ndereba||(KEN)||Boston 1999|
|2:29:01||Mary Keitany||(KEN)||New York 2010|
|2:33:49||Tiki Gelana||(ETH)||Dublin 2009|
|2:50:20||Edna Kiplagat||(KEN)||Las Vegas 2005|
* This was their first completed marathon. They had previously attempted another marathon but failed to finish.
how about Eliud Kipchoge’s 2L05.30 from Hamburg last April 21 where he won?
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 🙂
You must’ve accidentally omitted my debut marathon in 2002 of 2:05:14. Oh, wait… that was a half marathon.