Marathon running has a legend associated with it, it dates back to 490 BC! The first marathon commemorated the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield near the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens; a distance of approximately 25 miles to announce the defeat of the Persians to some anxious Athenians. After this historic run that he made for his countrymen, Pheidippides succumbed to death.
Thus, marathon running in itself is a sport that requires a wide variety of skills and talent, and not everyone can imagine running such a distance without some serious preparations. And since one cannot be sure of who ranks as the “best” or how athletes from the past and present can be compared, Sportskeeda looks at 5 greatest marathon runners of all time...
#1 Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia)
Currently the President of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, Haile is in all sense a modern-day international legend when it comes to long distance track and field running. He has long list of illustrious records to his name in a career that spanned over 20 years.
A two-time Olympic gold medallist in 10,000 meters at the 1996 and 2000 Games, he has set 27 world records in total. When it comes to marathons, Gebrselassie won the half marathon world championships in 2001, alongside nine major marathons. The world record came at the prime age of 35 at the 2008 Berlin Marathon, where he clocked 2:03:59.
#2 Abebe Bikila (Ethiopia)
A double-Olympic marathon champion, he is most famous for winning his first Olympic gold medal while running barefoot and even setting a new course world record on the way. Subsequently, he notched up another record when he became the first person in history to defend his Olympic marathon title in the 1964 Summer Olympics, again setting a new world record.
Abebe's victory at the 1964 Olympics is featured in the 1965 documentary film Tokyo Olympiad. Such is his legacy, that a stadium in Addis Ababa is named in his honor.
#2 Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich (Kenya)
The Kenyan athlete specialises in long distance running, ranging from 10km to marathons. He holds the distinction of being the first runner to break the two-hour five-minute mark in marathons for a record five times.
A former world record holder, his best came forth at the Berlin Marathon in 2013 when he clocked 2:03:23. Prior to that, he fetched Olympic glory when he won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Subsequently, at the London Marathon in 2014, he set a course record of 2:04:29.
Wilson had golden run of sorts from 2010 to 2014, where he won 11 races back-to-back.
#3 Dennis Kipruto Kimetto (Kenya)
The 32-year old Kenyan athlete is the current world record holder in marathons with his effort of 2:02:57 which he clocked at the 2014 Berlin Marathon. A mark of his humble background is the fact that, Kimetto used to practice farming particularly growing maize and tending to cows before he joined fellow runner Mutai’s training group back in 2008.
It was post this switch, that he concentrated his attention solely to training and racing full-time. 2013 was the landmark year for Kimetto, he won the Tokyo Marathon that year with a new course record time of 2:06:50 hours and then on 13 October 2013, he won the Chicago Marathon in a course-record time of 2:03:45.
#4 Paul Kibii Tergat (Kenya)
Regarded as one of the most accomplished and influential long-distance runners of all time, Paul Tergat held the world record in marathon from 2003 to 2007, with a time of 2:04:55. He made the Saint Silvester Marathon which is the most important in Latin America his very own, winning the race for a record five times.
Due to this effort of his, he is also the most celebrated African personality in Brazil after Nelson Mandela. Another great feat he achieved was winning the IAAF World Cross Country Championships title for five consecutive times.