All you need to know about the women's-only marathon world record

Athletics Weekly

All you need to know about the women's-only marathon world record

Abigael Wafula 15:00 - 23.04.2024

This article comprehensively explains why Peres Jepchirchir's record is referred to as the women's-only marathon world record.

After Peres Jepchirchir shattered the women’s marathon world record at the London Marathon on Sunday, many fans have been asking why the record is referred to as women-only and not only just a world record.

In 2011, the world governing body for track and field, World Athletics, made a crucial decision that the world record in women’s road racing would count only if they were set in women ’s-only events. The move was made to nullify the benefits of pacesetting by faster male runners.

The women’s world records can only be set in events in which there are no men on the course and since most marathons take place with men and women on course at the same time, there are much fewer opportunities for women to break the women’s-only world record.

The decision was made to eliminate any advantage gained from pacing by faster male runners. Hence, the London Marathon is also one of the few opportunities for women to run alone, without any men on course.

At the time, the decision caused an uproar but has since been accepted has fitted well in the world of marathon running. The ruling raised questions on the credibility of the sport about what a world-record performance is.

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During the uproar, the road running commission of World Athletics explained that they aimed at recognizing the difference in achievement between women who set marks while paced by men and those with a more difficult task of setting records while running on their own or, in rare cases, being paced by other women.

“The I.A.A.F. wanted to show that women can stand on their own two feet, that they don’t need guys to help them get to world records.

"There’s definitely a difference. Women run faster with men as pacers, about a two-minute differential on average,” Mary Wittenberg, director of the New York City Marathon and a member of the World Athletics’ Road Racing Commission said.