The relevant marathons held at all global athletics and para-athletics championships are scoring events for the Abbott World Marathon Majors series. These championships are:

  • Olympic Games
  • IAAF World Championships
  • Paralympic Games (T53/54 races)
  • World Para Athletics Championships (T53/54 races)

Marathons have been included in global athletics championships since the first modern Olympic Games in Athens 1896 when a Greek water-carrier called Spyridon Louis won the race between Marathon and the Panathenaic Stadium. The now standardised marathon distance of 26 miles 385 yards (or 42.195km) was first run at the 1908 Games in London when the race started in the grounds of Windsor Castle and finished with a clockwise lap around White City Stadium. The first women’s marathon at an Olympic Games was held in 1984 in Los Angeles when Joan Benoit won gold for the host nation. Marathons for both men and women have been part of the IAAF World Championships since the inaugural edition in Helsinki in 1983 when Rob de Castella of Australia and Norway’s Grete Waitz took the titles.

Wheelchair marathons have been part of the Paralympic Games since 1984 when they were held in Stoke Mandeville and New York City. The current categorisation system was introduced at the 1996 Games in Atlanta where marathons for T52-53 athletes were included. The first T54 marathons were held in Sydney in 2000 and there have been T54 marathon races at every Games since. Wheelchair marathons have been part of every IPC Athletics World Championships since the first edition in Berlin in 1994.

Inaugural running

  • Olympics Games – 1896 (men); 1984 (women)
  • IAAF World Championships – 1983
  • Paralympic Games – 1984
  • IPC Athletics World Championships – 1994

Championship records

Olympic Games

  • Men: 2:06:32 (Sammy Wanjiru, KEN, Bejiing 2008)
  • Women: 2:23:07 (Tiki Gelana, ETH, London 2012)

World Championships

  • Men: 2:06:54 (Abel Kirui, KEN, Berlin 2009)
  • Women: 2:20:57 (Paula Radcliffe, GBR, Helsinki 2005)

Paralympic Games

  • Men: 1:23:17 (Kurt Fearnley, AUS, Beijing 2008)
  • Women: 1:38:44 (Zou Lihong, CHN, & Tatyana McFadden, USA, Rio 2016)

World Para Athletics World Championships

  • Men: 1:27:58 (Heinz Frei, SUI, Villeneuve d’Ascq 2002)
  • Women: 1:41:14 (Tatyana McFadden, USA, London 2015)


Olympic Games –

IAAF World Championships –

Paralympic Games –

World Para Athletics World Championships –