The message came out clear after watching the 2023 Chicago Marathon that we are not yet near the end of world marathon records.

In only his third marathon race, Kenya’s 23-year-old Kelvin Kiptum just set a new world record of 2:00:35. This was just 35 seconds away from an official sub 2hr marathon time. The same scenario happened in the women’s race. On her second marathon race ever, Netherlands’s Sifan Hassan ran the second fastest women’s marathon time of 2:13:44. The two runners are only just getting started on their marathon running careers and are probably yet to reach their peak.

Kelvin Kiptum running 4:18 for mile 22. That is not a typo! Photo by Kevin Morris for the Chicago Marathon

What makes Kiptum special is his ability to have been able to consistently run all his marathons under 2:02, while what is special about Hassan is her ability to do well from the 800m event on the track up to the full marathon distance. She ran in the 1500m at the World Athletics Championships in August.

Despite the incredibly fast times the two runners ran, one thing is almost certain: They are most likely to be the two runners to dominate the marathon distance in the near future.

When Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai ran 2:03:02 for the marathon distance at the 2011 Boston Marathon, a time that was almost 57 seconds faster than the world record at that time, everyone thought that could only have happened on a net downhill course supported by a tailwind.

Dennis Kimetto came and set a proper world record of 2:02:57 at the Berlin Marathon some three years later. Then, the GOAT – Eliud KIpchoge- came and pushed it further to where many thought it would be impossible to be broken again at 2:01:09.

It was almost unbelievable that Mutai’s, Kimetto’s, and Kipchoge’s times would be broken again, but they have been.

In her second marathon, Sifan Hassan won the Chicago Marathon in 2:13.44, photo by Kevin Morris.

At the rate at which world records keep getting broken, one cannot help but wonder: for how long will we keep improving the marathon times before we finally reach the end of world records? At what time will runners finally reach the limit of human ability to run faster?

Another thing that came out of the Chicago Marathon is the now anticipated rematches for next season. Will Eliud Kipchoge get to race against Kelvin Kiptum? Will Sifan Hassan get to run against Ethiopia’s Tigst Aseffa, who just set the women’s marathon world record of 2:11:53 at the 2023 Berlin Marathon?

Another question on the minds of many marathon fans now is whether Kiptum should concentrate on trying to run a faster time now that he is in good form or focus on the Olympic title next year. Well, while the Olympic title is available only once in four years, and the opportunity to run fast times is available a number of times every year, perhaps it should also be worth noting that being in the best form to run a fast time and getting the right weather conditions to do so, could happen only a few times in one’s lifetime.

​ 

By