10 Fastest Marathon Courses In The World

Marathon runners prefer a course that’s flat as a pancake and moderate weather that falls between 38 and 45° Fahrenheit. These conditions help tremendously with regards to obtaining a personal best time.

Elite marathon runners love running on fast marathon tracks, as they always look to push boundaries.

Here are the 10 fastest marathon courses in the world.

10 Fastest Marathon Courses In The World:

  1. Berlin Marathon
  2. London Marathon
  3. Tokyo Marathon
  4. Milano Marathon
  5. Valencia Marathon
  6. Boston Marathon
  7. Dubai Marathon
  8. Rotterdam Marathon
  9. Frankfurt Marathon
  10. Chicago Marathon

These marathon courses have produced the fastest race times. If you want to improve your own personal best, they are excellent races to target.

The iconic and biggest marathon in the world, the New York Marathon, doesn’t make the top 10 list as the fastest time recorded in this marathon is 2:05:06, which places the event outside the top 10.

There’s also no place for the scenic Paris Marathon. But that’s not to say you can’t run a personal best time in one of them!

10 Fastest Marathon Courses

Fastest Marathon Courses

The following list includes marathon courses that have produced the fastest times in history.

All of them were won by elite athletes who could run below a sub-time of 2:04:00. Berlin is the fastest of them all.

1. Berlin Marathon – Germany 

The iconic Berlin Marathon is fast.

Really fast.

The Berlin formula includes cool temperatures, well-maintained level roads, and a carefully chosen elite field of marathoners. Other ingredients for success include an army of trained pace-makers who defend and lead each aspirant record-breaker with German efficiency. 

The marathon conditions are as flat as a pancake, except for a small footbridge encountered at the beginning of the race. During the whole marathon, there’s only 240 ft elevation.

Since it was originally conducted in 1974, the Berlin Marathon has been the location of multiple world records. It is regarded as having the quickest course among the six major marathons worldwide, including the marathons in New York City, Boston, Chicago, London, and Tokyo.

Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia has won four Berlin Marathons, while Renata Kokowska of Poland and Uta Pippig of Germany both have three victories in the women’s division.

Record Men’s Time: 

Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya – 2018)2:01:39

Record Women’s Time:

Gladys Cherono (Kenya – 2018)2:18:11

2. London Marathon – United Kingdom

The London Marathon is one of six World Marathon Majors, and the largely flat course winds around the famous Thames River.

Seven different runners have broken the marathon world record at the London Marathon, including Khalid Khannouchi in 2002, Grete Waitz in 1983, Ingrid Kristiansen in 1985, Paula Radcliffe in 2002, 2003, and 2005, and Mary Jepkosgei Keitany in the 2017 edition.

London Marathon

The mass race is the third-biggest running event and the country’s largest marathon after the Great North Run and Great Manchester Run.

The marathon has a large charitable component, with runners contributing to raising more than $1 billion since its inception, including £66.4 million at the 2019 London Marathon, which set a record for the most money raised in a single day.

Record Men’s Time:

Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya – 2019)2:02:37

Record Women’s Time:

Paula Radcliff (United Kingdom – 2003)2:15:25

3. Tokyo Marathon – Japan 

The Tokyo Marathon has been contested annually since 2007 and forms part of the six marathons that make up the World Marathons Majors. Kenya has delivered 8 men’s winners thus far, followed by Ethiopia’s 5.

At the postponed 2021 Tokyo Marathon, Eliud Kipchoge set a record for the fastest marathon ever on Japanese land with a time of 2:02:40. (6 March 2022). Also, this was the fourth-fastest marathon time in history. 

The only faster results are Kipchoge’s world record performance of 2:01:39 from the Berlin Marathon in 2018 and Kenenisa Bekele’s 2:01:41 from the same race in Berlin in 2019. Kipchoge’s 2:02:37 at the 2019 London Marathon was the only other quicker time.

Record Men’s Time:

Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya – 2022)2:02:40

Record Women’s Time:

Brigid Kosgei (Kenya – 2022)2:16:02

4. Milano Marathon – Italy

The Milano Marathon has been in existence since 2000 and is currently held in the City of Milano in April.

The scenic race edged its place in the pantheon of the world marathons in the 2021 edition when it delivered the third-fastest men’s marathon of all time (Only Berlin and London have produced faster times) and had the best times for men and women in 2021.

The Milano Marathon starts and finishes at the beautiful Corso Venezia, and the course is flat and fast, giving runners an excellent opportunity to improve their personal best times. Landmarks that you get to see while running is the Duomo Cathedral, the Sforza Castle, and the famous San Siro stadium.

Record Men’s Time:

Titus Ekiru (Kenya – 2021)2:02:57

Record Women’s Time:

Hiwot Gebrekidan (Ethiopia – 2021)2:19:35

5. Valencia Marathon – Spain 

The Valencia Marathon is categorized as a Platinum Level Race, has been held annually since 1981, and is ranked as the No. 1 race in Spain by the Spanish Road Racing Ranking system. The course is as flat as the horizon, and you get to run in the shade quite a bit due to running between Valencia’s beautiful buildings.

Valencia has a history of great crown support, drummers cheering the runners on, countless refreshment stations, and medical staff on bicycles on route to help where required. This Spanish city knows how to host a memorable marathon. 

Record Men’s Time:

Evans Chebet (Kenya – 2020)2:03:00

Record Women’s Time:

Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya – 2020)2:17:16

6. Boston Marathon – USA 

The world’s oldest annual marathon, the Boston Marathon, is proudly sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association and has attracted around 20,000 runners since the start of the 21st Century. A far cry from the handful of participants who entered the first race in 1897. 

The Boston Marathon was the first recognized marathon to allow female participants in 1972. Three years later, it held the first wheelchair marathon race.

Three people were killed, and another 260 people were hurt when two bombs exploded in 2013 near the marathon’s finish line and shook the running world to its core.  

Record Men’s Time:

Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya – 2011)2:03:02

Record Women’s Time:

Rita Jeptoo (Kenya – 2014)2:18:57

7. Dubai Marathon – UAE 

The Dubai Marathon is categorized as a Gold Label Road Race by the IAAF and has been held annually since 1998.

The course is flat and fast, and for the scenery, you run through Dubai Media City and its huge skyscrapers, along with some beautiful properties on the beachfront, and then twice past the very recognizable Burj Al Arab.

Dubai marathon course

Expect a humid race and an extended recovery period, with temperatures reaching 68° Fahrenheit by 10 AM. There are more than enough refreshments along the way, and the crowd is very supportive, often handing out chocolates and treats to the runners.

Record Men’s Time:

Getaneh Mollo (Ethiopia – 2019)2:03:34

Record Women’s Time:

Ruth Chepngetich (Kenya – 2019)2:17:08

8. Rotterdam Marathon – Netherlands

The Rotterdam Marathon is the most popular in the Netherlands and has been held annually in April since 1984, after its inception in 1981. The marathon was recognized as an IAAF Gold Label event in 2012 when broadcasting requirements were met. 

Due to the flat course and generally good weather, the Rotterdam Marathon frequently generates exceptionally quick running times. Several elite athletes have achieved their best times at Rotterdam on a course that can only be described as scenic and super-fast.

Record Men’s Time:

Bashir Abdi (Belgium – 2021)2:03:36

Record Women’s Time:

Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia – 2012)2:18:58

9. Frankfurt Marathon – Germany

The Frankfurt Marathon was held for the first time in 1981 and is Germany’s longest-established city marathon and the second-largest race in terms of runners finishing the race. The race course is unusually flat and has an elevation of fewer than 100 feet across the race distance.

Finishing the Frankfurt Marathon is an event on its own. With over 500,000 cheering spectators, a fast and flat race culminating in a run on a red carpet into the Festhalle is an experience that no runner will ever forget. 

Record Men’s Time:

Wilson Kipsang (Kenya – 2011)2:03:42

Record Women’s Time:

Valery Aiyabei (Kenya – 2019)2:19:10

10. Chicago Marathon – USA 

One of the reasons that the Chicago Marathon is such a fast race is that Chicago is renowned for its pancake-flat terrain. There are few downhills throughout the route, and the biggest hill is only 17 feet tall. The track generally stays between 575 feet and 600 feet above sea level.

The Chicago Marathon is one of the planet’s fastest modern-marathon races, and its elite status is due to its ability to lure the best athletes from around the world with sponsors paying huge amounts of prize money. Currently, the Bank of America owns and organizes the race.

Chicago's fast marathon

In Chicago, five world records have been broken. With a time of 2:08:05, Steve Jones broke the record in 1984.

Khalid Khannouchi was the first to run faster than 2:06:00 in 1999, clocking in at 2:05:42. Two years in a row saw the breaking of the women’s record. Catherine Ndereba set the record in 2001 with a time of 2:18:47, and Paula Radcliffe beat it the following year with a time of 2:17:18.

Record Men’s Time:

Dennis Kimetto (Kenya – 2013)2:03:45

Record Women’s Time:

Brigid Kosgei (Kenya – 2019)2:14:04 

What Is The Biggest Marathon In The World?

What is a list of marathons if you don’t include the biggest one? It may not have produced the fastest marathons ever, but it does draw the most people of any marathon in history. 

New York Marathon – USA

The New York City Marathon is the biggest in the world, with 98,247 applicants for the 2017 race and 53,627 race finishers in 2019. One of the six World Marathon Majors and the premier annual long-distance running events in the United States, along with the Boston and Chicago Marathons. 

Each year nearly two million spectators rock up to support the runners. It may not be the flattest marathon in history due to a few bridges along the way but without a doubt one of the most popular. 

Since the race’s inception in 1970, 22 nations have delivered winners, America leading the pack with 32 victories and the irresistible Kenyans with 26, followed by 10 victories for Norwegians.

Record Men’s Time:

Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya – 2011)2:05:06

Record Women’s Time:

Margaret Okayo (Kenya – 2003)2:22:31

If you want to achieve a personal best time in a marathon, look no further than the iconic marathons listed above. Run the world!

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Alex Randall

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Alex is the editor at Revel Sports. It was his idea to take our post-club-run chats and build a website out of them. He is responsible for dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s when any of us have something to post. (Basically: it’s all his fault). A ferocious 5K powerhouse on his day, Alex is known for not understanding the meaning of the term ‘negative split‘.
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