Icelandic women run faster than British men

Whilst Spain was top of the overall average time for amateurs, it was Iceland that came top of both of the men's and women's tables

Jamie Campbell
Thursday 23 April 2015 21:19 BST
The fastest amateur runners were from Iceland
The fastest amateur runners were from Iceland

When you think of the powerhouse countries of marathon running, you’d probably go straight to East Africa and countries like Ethiopia or Kenya.

However, a new analysis of more than a million recreational runners around the world has found that the fastest amateur runners are not from anywhere near the areas where the elite hail from.

When it comes to the everyman, the world’s best country at the longest distance race that recreational runners can hope to contest is none other than the tiny Nordic island of Iceland.

Analysis was compiled by Danish statisticians for who collected information for all finishers between 2009 and 2014 at some of the world’s major marathons, including Athens, Boston, London and Paris.

They stripped out data regarding “elite”, professional runner so that they were left with 1,298,466 sub-elite finishing times.

With all the results combined, it is actually Spain that claims the fastest time overall, at 3 hours and 55 minutes. However, more than 93 per cent of Spain’s runners are accounted for by men

In Iceland, both genders find themselves on top their respective gender tables. Men finish with an average time of 3 hours and 52 minutes and the women with 4 hours and 18 minutes.

The average time for an Icelandic woman works out as being quicker than the average UK male, with an average time of 4 hours and 22 minutes.

Canada and Portugal came in second and third in the women’s’ average times while in the men’s’ it was Luxembourg and Canada.

The statistics also showed that the growth in popularity of marathon running has grown by 13.25 per cent worldwide between 2009 and 2014 and in Asia the growth was 92.43 per cent.

The UK had an overall average time of 3 hours and 32 minutes.

Countries with the fastest average marathon times for recreational runners:


1. Iceland – 4:18:29

2. Canada – 4:19:12

3. Portugal – 4:19:17

4. Spain – 4:22:22

5. Czech Republic – 4:25:13

6. Norway – 4:25:23

7. Luxembourg – 4:25:30

8. Netherlands – 4:25:33

9. Slovakia – 4:27:44

10. Switzerland – 4:28:04


1. Iceland – 3:52:01

2. Luxembourg – 3:52:40

3. Canada – 3:52:44

4. Spain – 3:53:45

5. Slovenia – 3:53:46

6. Austria – 3:55:12

7. Portugal – 3:57:17

8. Norway – 3:57:50

9. Estonia – 3:58:19

10. Czech republic – 3:58:52

The London Marathon will take place on April 26, this Sunday.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in