Non-African Half Marathon Rankings
Published: 29th September 2017
It’s no secret that in recent years, long distance running has been dominated by athletes born on the continent of Africa. We wanted to take a look at the best of the rest, so here’s our first in a series of articles outlining the fastest non-African-born endurance athletes of all-time. First up, Half Marathon.
It’s immediately worth noting that the highest ranked time in this alternative list is well outside the top 100 in the official all-time list published on the IAAF website. This is enough evidence to prove the dominance of East African runners, as if it wasn’t already needed. For further reference, the current world record is held by Eritrean ‘Breaking2’ team member, Zersenay Tadesse. His 58:23 and 58:30 both set at Lisbon in 2010 and 2011 respectively still stand as the two fastest times in history. Of the 127 times between Tadesse and Marilson dos Santos’ 59:33, more than 75% were run by Kenyans!
It therefore shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Jake and Zane Robertson both make the top 10. The twin brothers from New Zealand moved to Kenya to focus on their running when they were just 17 years old. A decade on, the pair are now world class athletes – Jake notably pushed Mo Farah right to the finish of the 2017 Great North Run.
Another man who you may have seen one-on-one with Farah in the past is American, Dathan Ritzenhein. Teammates up in Oregon, the two battled it out in the 2016 edition of the GNR, Mo once again having the upper hand in the final mile. Ritzenhein’s fellow American, Ryan Hall left the sport in 2016 to take up bodybuilding. But that wasn’t before smashing the US half marathon record by over a minute from 60:55 to 59:43. His marathon personal best of 2:04:58 set at Boston in 2011 is arguably even more impressive, despite the point-to-point downhill course making it ineligible for the national record.
The only person to figure twice in the men’s top 10, Callum Hawkins, will be racing the 13.1 mile distance again this weekend in the Great Scottish Run. Having not raced since his impressive fourth place in the Marathon at the World Championships, it will be interesting to see if he can get to the times he was running earlier in the year and perhaps challenge the 60 minute barrier once again on Sunday. Hawkins, 25, will inevitably be eyeing up the British Marathon Record of 2:07:13 at some point in the next few years. Despite having yet to break 2:10:00 over the full 26.2 mile distance, his half marathon pedigree suggests a 2:06:XX is well within reach. However, with Mo Farah also turning to the marathon in 2017, Hawkins will have his work cut out if he wants to be the one to take down Steve Jones’ record set way back in 1985.
On the women’s side, it might come as a surprise to see the full marathon World Record holder, Paula Radcliffe in just 35th overall. Radcliffe has run quicker at the Great North Run in 2003 (65:40), but the downhill nature of the course makes it ineligible for records an thus not included in the official rankings. This time would currently sit 6th on the world all-time list, and was the fastest time ever run for more than ten years until Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat lowered the mark to 65:12 at the 2014 Barcelona Half Marathon.
Radcliffe isn’t the only woman to double up on this list. New Zealand’s Kimberley Smith, holder of twelve national records, was impressive in 2011, breaking 68 minutes twice the the same year. The three-time Olympian’s career was effectively ended in 2014 following complications after major surgery on her left foot. Smith is now back in training, but now aged 35, may struggle to return to her best form.
USA’s Jordan Hasay could be one to watch in the future. She made her half and full marathon debuts earlier this year, breaking the US debut marathon record by almost than three minutes in the process. After only recently stepping away from the track to focus on road running, expect Hasay to climb up this list in the coming years. Look out for her at the Chicago Marathon on October 8th. The more experienced Molly Huddle, also recently switching focus to the roads, will also be looking to chip away at her personal best and close in on Deena Kastor’s American record.