From the fastest marathon, to the fastest instantaneous human speed ever recorded, to the farthest any one man has ever run in a year, these are the human records on foot that inspire us to keep up.
It’s perhaps unfair to judge the fastest marathon time ever. Though most, if not all, courses are 26.2 miles, every marathon poses a unique challenge. Some are flat, others hilly, and there is ever-changing surface and weather conditions affecting runners at every turn. Nevertheless, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAFF) keep the records, and it judges, according to this international governing body, the fastest marathon ever was run by Patrick Makau at the 2011 Berlin Marathon. The Kenyan finished the race in 2 hours 3 minutes and 38 seconds, beating the previous record (also set in Berlin – a flat course near sea level) by 21 seconds. Just a few months earlier, fellow Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai ran a marathon even faster, finishing in 2 hours 3 minutes and 2 seconds at the Boston Marathon. However, due to an overall elevation drop of about 470 feet and other technicalities, the Boston Marathon is not record-eligible according to the IAFF.
Most Marathons in a Year
The record: 365. From February 5, 2010 to February 5, 2011, Stefaan Engels ran a marathon every day. The 49-year-old, foot-crushing sojourn began in Barcelona and took him through Portugal, his native Belgium, Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S. By the time he ended up back in Spain for his final, 365th race, Engels ran a total of 9,569 miles, averaging an impressive four hours per marathon. Engels, now known as “Marathon Man,” had previously entered the record books for completing 20 Iron Man triathlons in a single year. We must say this latest record is even more impressive.
Most Miles Run in 24 Hours
Greek ultramarathon runner, Yiannis Kouros, is a poet and a champion. His biggest fans call him the “Running God,” “Master of Pain,” or successor of Pheidippides – the Athenian courier who ran 150 miles to warn the Spartans of the coming Persian invasion. Pheidippides’ heroism inspired the marathon, but Yiannis Kouros runs farther than 26.2 miles. Much, much farther as a matter of fact. In 1997, during the Sri Chinmoy Ultra Festival in Adelaide, Australia, Kourous ran 188.59 miles on a track in 24 hours. It is the most distance that anyone has covered by foot in 24 hours. Of course, it’s only one of the “Master of Pain’s” many long-distance achievements. His record for 48 hours is 294.4 miles. For 6 days it’s 645.5 miles.
Distance Traveled by Foot in One Year
Ultramarathoner, Serge Girard, is called the “Continental Mariner” for a reason. The Frenchman has navigated the continents, and done so by foot in a way that nobody has before. From 1997 to 2006, Girard ran across each of the earth’s 5 major, unfrozen land masses: North America, South America, Australia, Africa and Eurasia. One leg of the trip, a 11,866-mile run from Paris to Tokyo, took 260 days. It was a good warm up for what came next, a nonstop race against himself around the European Union. Over 365 consecutive days in 2009-2010, Girard covered 16,784 miles by foot. Check out a helpful map here. Nobody has ever run farther in a year.