28 OCT 2009 General News

Sub-2:07 marathons reach historic point

Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot may have lost the race and the course record at the Commerzbank Frankfurt Marathon last Sunday, but when he crossed the finish line behind Gilbert Kirwa he still made some history. His finishing time of 2:06:23 was the one-hundredth sub-2:07 marathon ever run.

After Belayneh Densimo's historic 2:06:50 breakthrough at Rotterdam in 1988, it took almost ten and half-years for the next man to go under 2:07, Ronaldo da Costa's startling 2:06:05 world record at Berlin, 1998. While there was uneven progress over the next nine years, the pace of production since then has been breath-taking.

Forty percent of the 100 sub-2:07s have been run after the beginning of 2008. And since the Fukuoka Marathon, less than 11 months ago, there have been 25 marathon times under 2:07.

The all-time progression of sub 2:07 races:

1988 – 1
1998 – 2
1999 – 9
2000 – 2
2001 – 1
2002 – 12
2003 – 10
2004 – 7
2005 – 1
2006 – 9
2007 – 6
2008 – 16
2009 – 24

With aggressive pacing, generally good weather and courses designed for speed, a select group of marathons have contributed to the lion's share of these fast times. The top tier are evenly divided between spring and fall events.

Races with the most sub-2:07s:

London – 20
Berlin – 17
Chicago – 14
Amsterdam – 12
Paris – 12
Rotterdam – 12

The 100 sub-2:07s have been run by 64 different men. Haile Gebrselassie, as at so many other distances, is the King of the Clock here, with a lifetime total of nine. But the man who may be the heir apparent, Samuel Wanjiru, already has produced five before his 23rd birthday. Felix Limo, with four, is the only other man with more than three lifetime sub-2:07s.

Certainly the least surprising aspect has to be the country that has accounted for the largest number of sub-2:07s: Kenya. Their 61 is more than three times that of the next closest country (Ethiopia, 19). In fact African runners as a whole are responsible for 89 of the total (or 92 considering Moroccan-born runners who later changed nationalities).

Sub-2:07s by country:

Kenya – 61
Ethiopia – 19
Morocco – 7
United States – 3
Japan – 3
France – 2
South Africa – 2
Brazil – 1
Portugal – 1
Spain – 1

Marty Post for the IAAF

 

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