Tsegaye Kebede has only been running marathons for two and a half years, but in that short span of time he has reached a level of accomplishment that no one else has in history.
With his 2:05:18 course record victory at Fukuoka - IAAF Silver Label Road Race - last Sunday, a 2:05:20 runner-up at London in April and 2:08:35 bronze medal at the Berlin World Championships, the 22-year-old Ethiopian averaged 2:06:24 in 2009, the fastest ever for three marathons in a calendar year. In fact, he did it in less than eight months.
It used to be a singular accomplishment for an elite marathoner to run a sub-2:06 marathon. With ever increasing frequency, the best in the world are now averaging such a time for multiple marathons within the same year.
Kebede's 2009 was so superb, that he also managed to become the second fastest ever for total time of his two fastest races, 4:10:38.
Haile Gebrselassie heads the double fastest list, not just breaking 4:10, but going sub-4:09 as well in 2008. He started off with the then second fastest time ever, 2:04:53 at Dubai in January and then posted the still standing World record of 2:03:59 at Berlin in September.
Gebrselassie and Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru are the only men to go sub-4:12 total in two years.
Until 2008, only Khalid Khannouchi had run such a pair of fast marathons. In 2002 he followed a 2:05:38 World record at London with a 2:05:56 at Chicago. Khannouchi, Gebrselassie, Kebede and Sammy Wanjiru are the only men with multiple sub-2:06s in the same year.
Seven of the eight sub-4:12 totals have occurred in the past two years.
Marty Post for the IAAF
Two fastest total marathon times in one year
Haile Gebrselassie (2008) 2:04:53; 2:03:59; 4:08:52
Tsegaye Kebede (2009) 2:05:20; 2:05:18; 4:10:38
Sammy Wanjiru (2009) 2:05:10; 2:05:41; 4:10:51
Khalid Khannouchi (2002) 2:05:38; 2:05:56; 4:11:34
Haile Gebrselassie (2009) 2:05:29; 2:06:08; 4:11:37
Vincent Kipruto (2009) 2:05:47; 2:06:08; 4:11:55
Samuel Wanjiru (2008) 2:05:24; 2:06:32; 4:11:56
Abel Kirui (2009) 2:05:04; 2:06:54; 4:11:58