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January 4, 2018

2017 Marked A Big Year For The Marathon

The indoor track period is just about to start but before that I wanted to take a quick moment to share some stats from my favorite event, the marathon, in 2017.

The easiest stat to know is that Eliud Kipchoge was king again. Kipchoge clocked the fastest men’s marathon of 2017 with his 2:03:32. He also has the unofficial fastest time from his 2:00:25 in the Breaking2 attempt hosted by Nike under optimized conditions on the Formula 1 track in Monza, Italy. Of course, no record book will recognize that time. It was simply an exhibition into what could be humanly possible and it was a lot better than many of us expected. On the women’s side, Mary Keitany set the women’s-only world record of 2:17:01 in her London Marathon win. Only Paula Radcliffe has run faster in history.

Another easy and predictable note. Galen Rupp finished the year with the fastest American marathon time. His 2:09:20 to win the Chicago Marathon in October ranked as the 107th fastest time of the year. I think I mentioned it in a previous blog post that no American man has cracked the top 100 at the end of the year since Meb Keflezighi’s Boston Marathon win in 2:08:37 from 2014. Does Rupp have the potential to go faster? Absolutely. Unless Boston’s weather cooperates then we may not find out until the fall. His Nike Oregon Project teammate Jordan Hasay clocked the fastest debut in history at the Boston Marathon and the followed it up with a 2:20:57 at the Chicago Marathon to become the second-fastest American woman of all-time and the fastest of 2017.

Now to some more numbers crunching and nerding out..

Of the top 100 fastest marathoners of 2017, 89 were Kenyans (63) and Ethiopians (26). In his own blog post, Toni Reavis noted that there were 186 sub-2:10 performances in 2017. The only American one was the aforementioned run by Rupp.

It was a much closer race between Kenya and Ethiopia for the most runners in the top 100. Kenya edged out Ethiopia 37 to 36. Other countries in the top 100 include: Japan (9); USA (7), Burundi (4); Australia (2); Portugal (2); Mexico (1); Belarus (1) and Germany (1). The seven American women were Jordan Hasay, Desi Linden, Laura Thweatt, Serena Burla, Shalane Flanagan, Amy Cragg and Sara Hall. I believe that’s the most since 2004 when the U.S. also put seven women in the top 100 and were led by an Olympic bronze medal by Deena Kastor.

Now here’s a little interesting fact on Desi Linden that I came across. This is where she’s finished the year ranked by time…

2008: 131st in the world (2:31:33), 5th American

2009: 56th in the world (2:27:48), 2nd American

2010: 37th in the world (2:26:20), 1st American

2011: 10th in the world (2:22:38), 1st American

2012: 60th in the world (2:25:55), 2nd American

2013: 105th in the world (2:29:15), 4th American

2014: 20th in the world (2:23:54), 2nd American

2015: 52nd in the world (2:25:39), 1st American

2016: 55th in the world (2:26:08), 2nd American

2017: 42nd in the world (2:25:06), 2nd American

So take a second to process that. Outside of the year in which he debuted and the year after injury derailed her run at the Olympics, she has been either the first or second fastest American woman AND finished in the top 10 in the world. So we’ve written a few things about how we’re looking forward to April’s Boston Marathon not to rule out Molly Huddle in that mix but Linden is the face of American consistency in the marathon. (And we’re not just talking about how evenly-split she runs.) It’s really early to make a bold prediction and say that she’s going to make the next Olympic team. She would only be 37 and if the trend of being the top woman or No. 2 continues then she’d be headed to Tokyo for her third marathon run at the Olympics.

The fastest non-African time was run by Norway’s Sondre Nordstad Moen’s 2:05:48, which is the 12th fastest of the year. That’s the highest that any non-African finished the year ranked since Ryan Hall was ranked seventh in 2011 for his 2:04:58 at the Boston Marathon.

These are the non-Kenyans and non-Ethiopians that cracked the top 100:

Moen, NOR  – 12th

Kiprotich, UGA – 36th

Osako, JPN – 40th

Samuel Tsegay Tesfamriam, ERI – 48th

Said Ait Addi, MAR – 61st

Yohanes Gebregergish, ERI – 63rd

Adbi Nageeye, NED – 65th

Hirohito Inoue, JPN – 66th

Stephen Mokoka, RSA – 73rd

Yuta Shitara, JPN – 92nd

Alphonce Felix, TAN – 98th

Really impressive runs by Japan to put three men in the top 100. Their new plan for the Marathon Grand Championship trials race ahead of the 2020 Olympics is already intriguing given that Japan Running News noted that in order to qualify men must run under 2:08:30 and women under 2:24:00 between Aug. 1, 2017 and Apr. 30, 2019 on any IAAF-certified world record-eligible course.

The fastest non-African time by a woman belongs to Hasay. The previous year’s fastest non-African was Kayoko Kukushi of Japan, who ran 2:22:17 and finished the year as the eighth-fastest woman so just one slot higher than Hasay but it was a slower time by nearly two minutes. Hasay at No. 9 would tie Shalane Flanagan’s No. 9 finish from 2014, when she ran 2:2:14 at the Berlin Marathon.

In 2017, we had seven performances crack the all-time top 100 for the men:

Eliuid Kipchoge’s 2:03:32 from Berlin – 9th

Guye Adola’s 2:03:46 from Berlin – 13th

Wilson Kipsang’s 2:03:58 from Tokyo – 16th

Tamirat Tola’s 2:04:11 from Dubai – 20th

Lawrence Cherono’s 2:05:09 from Amsterdam – 66th

Nobert Kigen’s 2:05:13 from Amsterdam – 71st

Abraham Kiptum’s 2:05:26 from Amsterdam – 88th

If you’re curious where Galen Rupp’s run in Chicago ranks, it’s tied with 12 other runs for the 1791th fastest marathon of all-time.

And here are the 14 women’s performances that cracked the all-time top 100:

Mary Keitany’s 2:17:01 from London, 2nd

Tirunesh Dibaba’s 2:17:56 from London, 5th

Tirunesh Dibaba’s 2:18:31 from Chicago, 6th

Sarah Chepchirchir’s 2:19:47 from Tokyo, 25th

Brigid Kosgei’s 2:20:22 from Chicago, 40th

Gladys Cherono’s 2:20:23 from Berlin, 41st

Ruti Aga’s 2:20:41 from Berlin, 50th

Valary Aiyabei’s 2:20:53 from Berlin, 62nd

Purity Rionoripo’s 2:20:55 from Paris, 63rd

Jordan Hasay’s 2:2057 from Chicago, 64th

Agnes Barsosio’s 2:20:59 from Paris, 67th

Eunic Kepkorir’s 2:21:17 from Nagoya, 79th

Birhane Dibaba’s 2:21:19 from Tokyo, 82nd

Flomena Cheyech’s 2:21:22 from Paris, 86th

Lastly, here were the fastest marathons by month in 2017:


Men – Tamirat Tola (ETH) – Dubai, 2:04:11

Women – Worknesh Degefa (ETH) – Dubai, 2:22:36


Men – Wilson Kipsang (KEN) – Tokyo, 2:03:58

Women – Sarah Chepchirchir (KEN) – Tokyo, 2:19:47


Men – Amos Kipruto (KEN) – Seoul, 2:05:57

Women – Eunice Kepkirui (BRN) – Nagoya, 2:21:17


Men- Daniel Wanjiru (KEN) – London, 2:05:48

Women – Mary Keitany (KEN) – London, 2:17:01


Men – Gebretsadik Adhana (ETH) – Prague, 2:08:47

Women – Valary Aiyabei (KEN) – Prague, 2:21:57


Men – Abrha Milaw (ETH) – Stockholm, 2:11:36

Women – Ashete Bekele (ETH) – Lanzhou, 2:32:03


Men – Kenneth Mungara (JPN) – Gold Coast, 2:09:04

Women – Abech Afework (ETH) – Gold Coast, 2:25:34


Men – Geoffrey Kirui (KEN) – World Championships, 2:08:27

Women – Rose Chelimo (KEN) – World Championships, 2:27:11


Men – Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) – Berlin, 2:03:32

Women – Gladys Cherono (KEN) – Berlin, 2:20:23


Men – Lawrence Cherono (KEN) – Amsterdam, 2:05:09

Women – Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) – Chicago, 2:18:31


Men – Sammy Kitwara (KEN) – Valencia, 2:05:15

Women – Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) – Istanbul, 2:22:36


Men – Sondre Nordstad Moen (NOR) – Fukuoka, 2:05:48

Women – Brigid Kosgei (KEN) – Honolulu, 2:22:15

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