Experts: Sub-2-Hour Marathon Not Coming Soon

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Aug. 8, 2013
  • Updated Aug. 8, 2013 at 9:59 AM UTC
Patrick Makau owns the current marathon world record. Photo:

Despite how close runners are to the magic mark, it doesn’t seem possible right now.

The official marathon world record for men is currently set at 2:03:38. It belongs to Kenya’s Patrick Makau, who clocked it on the speedy Berlin Marathon course back in 2011.

The New York Road Runners has published an article that seeks the answer the question, given the progression in the marathon world record over the years, if a sub-2-hour marathon is a near-term possibility.

Weighing in is’s co-founder Robert Johnson.

He’s not convinced it will happen.

“Despite the dumb mainstream press articles [about] a sub-2-hour marathon, the fact of the matter is humans aren’t close to doing it (without the help of some undetectable drugs),” he writes.

As a basis for this opinion, Johnson compares the marathon world record to the world records of other distance events like the 5000m and 10,000m.

Thirty years ago, these marks were rapidly improved but have plateaued in recent years. Converting the equivalent of a sub-two-hour marathon to a 10,000m and 5000m on the track would equate to running those in 25:36.15 and 12:17.89, respectively.


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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