What is the average marathon time?

The marathon is an event that finds its way onto the bucket lists of many runners - from total beginners to athletes. The challenging distance of a marathon means that training is crucial to being able to complete the 26.2 mile course, and even more so for those hoping to do so in what they regard as a good time. With that in mind you might be wondering “how long should it take to run a marathon?”.

How can I measure my running time?

Your running time for any distance will depend on your pace, for example if you run at a speed of 10km (6.2 miles) per hour you will finish a marathon (26.2 miles or 42.2km) in around 4 hours and 13 minutes. Average speeds will also vary depending on age, fitness level and gender, with male runners tending to have faster finishing times on average than female runners of a similar age.

During your training you may want to use a fitness tracker or app to help you monitor your progress and keep an accurate record of your speed and running distance. You can use the data they track to ‘race yourself’ and identify areas for improvement.

Average marathon time for beginners

For a beginner it is better to focus not on a finishing time, but instead on crossing the finish line. For a marathon it’s recommended that you follow a training plan focused on building up your running distance and overall fitness level – don’t feel pressured to keep up with Mo Farah or Paula Radcliffe just yet! An average beginner’s marathon time comes in at around 4:30 for men and 4:45 for women. 

Average half marathon time for intermediate runners

Intermediate level runners, particularly those who have completed a marathon or a half marathon before may have their sights set on a more ambitious finishing time. A common goal is to complete a marathon in a sub 4-hour time. The average time in this category can range between 3:30 – 4:10 for men and 3:50 – 4:20 for women.

Average marathon time for athletes/elites

Elite athletes train extremely hard to achieve their impressive pace over the 26.2 mile distance of a marathon. Elite men can achieve a marathon race time of 2:05-2:20, for this is around 2:15-2:30. The world record holder for the men’s marathon is Eliud Kipchoge, completing the race in just over 2 hours at 2:01:39. The women’s half marathon record is held by Paula Radcliffe with a time of 2:15:25.


If you are looking for your next marathon, take a look at our event listings to find the perfect event for you - Marathon Listings

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