Alternative All-Time Rankings: Non-African Marathon Runners

It’s no secret that over the last two decades, the East Africans have been dominant in the world of distance running. As such, the all-time marathon rankings are covered in Kenyan and Ethiopian flags, making it difficult to work out who are the ‘best of the rest’. We’ve saved you the effort and compiled these alternative all-time rankings – including only athletes who were born outside of Africa.


• Four of the top five times on the men’s side were set in either 2017 or 2018. Could this be signalling a rise in non-African marathoners or merely an indication of a general progression due to improvements in training, nutrition and … shoes? On the other hand, there is only one time from the women that was run within the last ten years. What could be the reason for this lengthy gap in quality times between 2008 and 2017?

• The 10th placed woman in this list is 44th in the overall rankings (including African athletes), whereas the number one ranked male is just 75th! This shows a significant gap in the depth of male African marathoners compared to their female counterparts. Furthermore, we see a range of 5 minutes and 32 seconds in our list for the women, far greater than the 48 seconds separating the top 10 men.

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