clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Boston Marathon: Geoffrey Mutai's Record Time (That Wasn't Actually A Record)

Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya won the 2011 Boston Marathon on Monday, the 115th running of the world's most famous race. And he did it in 2:03:02. That's not only the fastest time ever run at Boston -- in fact, the first four finishers, including American Ryan Hall, all surpassed the course record on Monday, previously held by Kenya's Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot and set last year (2:05:52) -- but it was the fastest any human being has ever run a distance of 26.2 miles. Ever. 

So why is it just a "world best," and not a new "world record"?

A few reasons, actually. First, Boston is a very downhill course -- Heartbreak Hill notwithstanding (it has the biggest drop in elevation from start to finish of any of the five World Marathon Majors). Secondly, it's a point-to-point course -- Hopkinton to Boston -- and not  a loop course, which makes it ineligible for marathon records. And lastly, Monday's running featured a very strong tailwind, which the international community takes into consideration when considering records.

All of that means that while Mutai was the fastest on Monday, the record will still belong to the legendary Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie, who ran a 2:03:59 in Berlin in 2008.