Is A Sub Two-Hour Marathon Possible?

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Apr. 11, 2011
  • Updated Feb. 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM UTC
Is a sub-2 hour marathon possible? World-record holder Haile Gebrselassie thinks so. Photo:

Is a sub-2 hour marathon possible? World-record holder Haile Gebrselassie thinks so. Photo:

Both current world-record holders think so.

With Haile Gebrselassie’s marathon world record just 3:59 shy of dipping under two hours, some are wondering if a human can ever run that fast. BBC reporter Chris Dennis is one of these people. In an article posted on the news organization’s Web site, Dennis wonders if this is possible as soon as the 2012 Olympics.

He asks Gebrselassie himself who says he doesn’t think it’s possible next year, but that it could happen some time. “No question. The first sub two-hour marathon will need 20 to 25 years, but it will definitely happen,” he says.

The women’s world-record holder agrees with Gebrselassie.

“Records are there to be broken and people are going to be shooting for it, but someone is going to have to run really hard to beat this one,” says Paula Radcliffe. “That’s the kind of mindset it will take.”

But there are skeptics as well.

Glenn Latimer, a U.S. authority on marathons, says it’s not happening in his lifetime.

“Maybe that’s because I’m old, but I don’t see it happening in a long, long time, ” admits.  “You watch these great athletes up close, an athlete as great as Haile Gebrselassie… and you could see the strain, he looks magnificent through 20, 21, 22 miles and then it starts, and then the body starts to break itself down and maintaining pace is hard enough.”

For More: BBC

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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