Countries with the Fastest Marathoners

Name the countries with the most runners who have run a marathon in less than 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Through March 17, 2021
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: March 17, 2021
First submittedAugust 18, 2016
Times taken37,673
Rating4.54
3:00
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#
Best Time
Country
556
2:01:39
Kenya
244
2:01:41
Ethiopia
142
2:05:29
Japan
31
2:04:58
United States
30
2:05:26
Morocco
25
2:05:53
Eritrea
23
2:06:35
Spain
20
2:06:33
South Africa
#
Best Time
Country
20
2:07:46
Tanzania
19
2:05:11
United Kingdom
18
2:07:19
Italy
16
2:06:36
France
12
2:07:19
Mexico
10
2:06:05
Brazil
10
2:07:20
South Korea
10
2:07:51
Australia
+2
Level 65
Aug 18, 2016
More time, please
+32
Level 59
Sep 22, 2016
Disagree - more time turns it into a speed-typing race. The test is knowing your athletics.
+21
Level 73
Oct 23, 2017
Yet a marathon is a long-haul race... ;)
+3
Level 90
Aug 23, 2016
For some reason this quiz made me feel bad, like I was profiling countries. Ah well.
+10
Level 84
Nov 26, 2018
Well, I'll go there: Japan???
+18
Level 85
Mar 18, 2021
You really shouldn't. There's no discriminatory element to the fact that certain countries/cultures have been better at certain sports (it's not limited to sports either, you see it in nearly every discipline). Some sports are pretty even across a lot of countries, like golf and tennis and basketball. But if you think ice hockey, you think Canada, Russia, etc. If you think table tennis, China and Taiwan. Speed skating: South Korea. And so on. Nothing to be ashamed about knowing those things.
+2
Level 73
Apr 21, 2021
🙄
+7
Level 60
Sep 22, 2016
Wow, that Kenya number is impressive.
+17
Level 82
Sep 22, 2016
WOW is right. I knew before coming that Kenya and Ethiopia would dominate, but, by THAT much? Wow. Also, had no idea Japan had so many. I guess sumo wrestlers are faster than they look. They blow away 4th place but I had no idea.
+1
Level 30
Feb 17, 2019
lol ha ha
+5
Level 59
Sep 22, 2016
I know it's implied, but you should specify that it's the "men's" marathon times. Hope you can put together a women's quiz too.
+32
Level 72
Sep 22, 2016
I don't see a reason to rename it as this quiz is inclusive of women who have run sub-2:10 marathon times.
+5
Level 59
Sep 22, 2016
Excellent point, thanks
+3
Level 65
Mar 18, 2021
I assume if a woman ever got under 2:10 they would be included.
+5
Level 61
Sep 22, 2016
Who would have ever guessed that Japan had that many successful marathoners? That is amazing.
+2
Level 60
Apr 21, 2021
There's a law in Japan which restricts people to get obese
+2
Level 22
Apr 21, 2021
It is not illegal in Japan to be overweight. The law you are referencing, that went into effect April 1, forces companies and the government (the two sources of health insurance in Japan) to measure the body fat of employees ages 40 to 74.

Employers may be required to pay more into the national health care system if the waistlines of employees exceed the government’s limits.

+1
Level 67
Sep 22, 2016
Huh, maybe I should run a marthon.
+8
Level 71
Nov 2, 2017
Sure, why not?! It's easy! Step 1: Start running. There's no step 2. ;)
+29
Level 71
Oct 1, 2018
There's step 3 and 4 and 5 and likely about 42.000 more :)
+2
Level 56
Sep 22, 2016
Ironic to see Greece isn't up there given that it's named after a Greek city.
+20
Level 82
Sep 22, 2016
yeah and the Greek guy who ran that first marathon died from the exertion.
+29
Level 82
Nov 24, 2018
They learned their lesson early on ;)
+6
Level 84
Nov 26, 2018
They made it a spectator sport to view other countries' misery after that.
+1
Level 46
Jan 2, 2017
Uganda?
+3
Level 82
Nov 24, 2018
Kenya has more than the rest of the list combined. Ethiopia and Japan each have more than the next five countries on the list combined.
+7
Level 72
Nov 26, 2018
And almost all their great runners are from the Kalenjin (and especially the Nandi) people. From Wikipedia:

"Since the mid-1960s, Kenyan men have earned the largest share of major honours in international athletics (track and field) at distances from 800 meters to the marathon; the vast majority of these Kenyan running stars have been Kalenjin. From 1980 on, about 40% of the top honours available to men in international athletics at these distances (Olympic medals, World Championships medals, and World Cross Country Championships honours) have been earned by Kalenjin."

+1
Level 63
Nov 26, 2018
To me, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania were the obvious ones.
+1
Level 67
Nov 27, 2018
I think you got it wrong with South Africa. 2:06:33 is Stephen Kiprotich's time in London Olympics Marathon. He is Ugandan.
+1
Level 55
Nov 27, 2018
Missing France : 2 h 6 min 36 s Benoît Zwierzchiewski 6 avril 2003 Paris
+1
Level 58
Dec 2, 2019
Has there been 10= french runners?
+1
Level 35
Nov 27, 2018
nobody care about their real name...
+2
Level 25
Jan 3, 2019
All I got was Ethiopia and Kenya, lol.
+1
Level 48
Mar 22, 2020
Same
+3
Level 72
Feb 17, 2019
Good quiz. But, can somebody explain why USA was guessed more than Kenya? Even though Kenya appears to have more people in this list than the rest of the World put together? Also, I note that some were surprised by the Japanese. Shouldn't be when you consider their "national character". Dogged determination and giving up brings shame.
+4
Level 53
May 9, 2019
Because it's 3 characters (easy to type) and a lot of marathons are held here (big country with lots of cities). If I want to run a marathon I can just go down the street, or drive a little while. Or even just fly to Kenya if there's a marathon there, it's not that expensive. Harder for a Kenyan to get over here, I imagine.
+10
Level 67
Mar 22, 2020
When people dont know, they type big countries that tend to show up on most quizzes
+3
Level 72
Mar 18, 2021
Big countries? Well, China, Russia and India didn't show up on this one.
+4
Level 85
Mar 18, 2021
Of course not, but Sifhraven was saying that those countries are GUESSED most often when people aren't sure. If there was a list of most guessed countries, right or wrong, China and Russia would probably show up (not so sure about India though).
+2
Level 84
Mar 18, 2021
Wasn't at all surprised by Japan they normally have someone in the elite runner field, they have the major race in Tokyo and running is very popular there as it is an easy way to keep fit in the big cities.
+1
Level 26
Aug 6, 2019
Minor correction: At the Chicago Marathon 2018, Mo Farah (UK) ran a time of 2:05:11, so even faster than in London 2018.
+2
Level 67
Oct 16, 2019
Can you update this? #sub2
+5
Level 63
May 20, 2020
Kipchoge's time of 1:59:40 run in Vienna does not count as a world record. It was not a competitive race, but he was run through the 42km by groups of pace makers who changed every 5kms. He's still the world record holder though, and has currently won 12 of the 13 marathons he has raced in. For anyone wondering, he's the guy in the picture.
+1
Level 67
Mar 18, 2021
Yeah, looking back at that comment makes me laugh. But to be fair to the 2019 version of me, the quiz just says best time. It doesn't say "fastest world record eligible time."
+1
Level 54
Mar 22, 2020
I thought of Eritrea, but the fact of how the population is relatively small to the other countries, I didn't think it would actually be an answer.
+1
Level 43
Aug 5, 2020
done. 1min and 30 seconds left
+4
Level 76
Mar 18, 2021
I'll take these guys marathon times and quadruple them!
+1
Level 72
Mar 18, 2021
I can match their times, but only if I drop out after the first 5 miles.
+1
Level 67
Mar 18, 2021
I hate to be overly technical, but this isn't through March 17 but rather January 30. Since then, the Japanese record has been broke, plus a ton of Japanese marathoners broke 2:10 (some of whom I'm sure weren't previously on the list).

Also, it's not under 2:10, but 2:10:30.

+1
Level 50
Mar 18, 2021
South Korea? WHAAAAAAT?!

I'm very impressed.

+1
Level 83
Mar 18, 2021
Had guessed ~14 of them and pretty much went through every African country I hadn't already guessed after that. Phew.
+7
Level 50
Mar 21, 2021
POV: You wrote Jamaica because of Usain Bolt
+1
Level 46
Apr 21, 2021
Yep lol
+1
Level 51
Apr 21, 2021
Darn, Eritrea got me. Do places like India not prioritize runners? They are so populated, I definitely tried them as a guess, but not too surprised based on the other answers.
+1
Level 61
Apr 21, 2021
Sports infrastructure is really really poor in India, and even non-existent in some states.
+1
Level 61
Apr 21, 2021
The list is basically "developed countries with strong running cultures and large populations" and "developing countries with targeted programmes for developing elite athletes." India has very little amateur running culture and no particular support for professional runners.
+1
Level 63
Apr 21, 2021
They don't really prioritise any Olympic sports. Despite its huge population, India has won a grand total of 28 summer Olympic medals since their first participation in 1900 - 11 of which in field hockey.
+2
Level 63
Apr 21, 2021
In fact, one guy has won 100% of the summer olympic medals India has ever won in athletics (or track and field, as the yanks call it), and that was in 1900 (Norman Pritchard, who won silver in men's 200m and 200m hurdles).
+1
Level 67
Apr 21, 2021
Kenya is absolutely insane!!! And this list is certainly very diverse! African countries usually don't dominate much at sports, so it's nice seeing how many there are here.
+1
Level 63
Apr 21, 2021
African countries usually do shockingly bad at the Winter Olympics.
+1
Level 66
Apr 22, 2021
One of the main reasons they’re so much better is the altitude on the plateaus of East Africa, which leads to naturally larger lung capacity and more efficient respiratory system. Although there are other interesting factors here: https://populous.com/born-to-run-why-do-east-africans-dominate-long-distance-running-events
+1
Level 63
Apr 23, 2021
Yes, that very likely plays a role, although it would be hard to say if it's more or less significant than the running culture, where running is valued, encouraged, where the people have role models and success stories surrounding them... It's probably a combination of both!
+2
Level 69
Apr 21, 2021
In case anyone's wandering, Uganda has 8 on the list under 2:10. They'll probably get on here within a few years.
+1
Level 69
Apr 21, 2021
Wait, I don't get it at all. According to the source there are only 5 Australians who have run a marathon in under 2:10? You only get to 10 Australians by including the 5 Australians who ran between 2:10:00 and 2:10:30. So either Australia ought to be removed or the description needs to be changed.
+1
Level 35
Apr 21, 2021
surprised germany wasn't on here when the first three people on the source given are from Berlin..
+1
Level 63
Apr 22, 2021
Berlin is known for being a particularly fast marathon track (mainly because the city is very flat), but the race is usually not won by people *from* Berlin!
+1
Level 64
Apr 22, 2021
I could never imagine Spain would be in the list... I'm spanish.