Why it will take 'years' for women's marathon record to be broken

Peris Jepchirchir

Kenya's Olympic marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir wins her third world half marathon title at the at the inaugural World Athletics Road Running Championships in Riga, Latvia,  on Sunday, October 1, 2023. 

Photo credit: World Athletics

Olympic marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir and Boston Marathon champion Hellen Obiri opine that the new women's world marathon record could take years before it's lowered again.

Women's marathon running was entirely taken to a new level when Ethiopia's Tigst Assefa set a new world record, a blistering 2 hours, 11 minutes 53 seconds, to win the Berlin Marathon on September 24.

Assefa, who won last year's race in 2:15:37, took more than two minutes off Brigid Kosgei's 2:14:04 world record set in Chicago in 2019, to make history as the first woman to run a sub 2:12 marathon.

Half marathon

Jepchirchir, fresh from winning a third world half marathon title on Sunday in Riga, Latvia, noted that even though records are set to be broken, Assefa's time might take five or years to be broken.

Referring to Paula Radcliffe's previous world record of 2:15:25 that stood for 16 years, Jepchirchir said that nobody thought it would be broken with someone running under 2 hours and 15 minutes.

"Not only did Kosgei lower it but made history as the first woman to run under 2:15 hours. We now have four women who have run under that and having Assefa going deeper is an incredible piece of running," said Jepchirchir.

"Running 2:11 isn't easy but Assefa made it look flawless. The bar has now been raised," said Jepchirchir.

Obiri, now based in Colorado, United States of America, said that she expected Assefa to break the world record but not with such a big margin, a time she termed as "crazy".

"Going the first half in 65 minutes was super-fast and to be honest, it will take like five years to lower that time," said Obiri.

Record holder

"I have a feeling that the next world record holder will be a Kenyan again but only time will tell," said Obiri.

Jepchirchir and Obiri reckon that even though defending Ruth Chepng'etich (PB 2:14:18) is in the fast field heading for the Chicago Marathon this Sunday, a world record is unlikely.

"We should expect fast times with the winner going under the previous record with perhaps a time of 2:13. We can have good pacesetters but other factors like weather will also come to play, "said Jepchichir.

Obiri said that Chepng'etich is in the best shape of her life and likely to produce an incredible time in Chicago.

"I should expect a course record if they are to get strong male pacesetters of 2:08," noted Obiri.

Kosgei's previous world record time of 2:14:04 is the course record in Chicago.
Chepngetich and American record holder Emily Sisson will both make their returns to the Chicago event where this year's London Marathon champion Sifan Hassan will make her American debut.

Chepngetich ran the second-fastest time ever in the Chicago race last year, narrowly missing a world record by 14 seconds. This year, she'll be seeking her third consecutive win.

Joining them are 2021 London winner Joyciline Jepkosgei and one of the most decorated athletes of all-time, Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia, both of whom are making their Chicago debuts.

Jepchirchir and Obiri will be making their second appearance at the New York City Marathon scheduled for November 5.

Jepchirchir won in New York City on debut in 2021 while Obiri finished sixth on her marathon debut last year at the US financial capital.