The second part of our epic marathon to find the greatest long-distance runners of all time follows on from part one when our focus was on Haile Gebrselassie, Paavo Nurmi, Emil Zatopek and Said Aouita. These were some of the greatest runners of all time and in this blog, we look at even more top athletes who had the skill and tenacity to take on marathons and other distance races.
Another Ethiopian to make it on our list of the great distance runners, Bekele ran both the 5K and 10K faster than any man in human history. His record is more than impressive with career wins of twenty-five, three Olympic gold medals and five world record titles. The times Bekele set for his 5K and 10K have stood for over a decade and have never been beaten, in this day and age that is simply unbelievable. Ethiopia has produced so many fantastic distance runners, to be at the pinnacle of Ethiopian distance athletes takes somebody that is extraordinary.
Hicham El Guerrouji
Hicham El Guerrouji is probably Morocco’s best ever middle-distance runner, and he was given the name King of the Mile in recognition of his ability in middle-distance running. In 1999 he ran the fastest mile in history, the pace was blisteringly fast at 3:43.13 which surpassed Roger Bannister’s famous 1954 time by an unbelievable fifteen seconds.
The first of our Kenyan runners is Paul Tergat and is also associated with the elite of distance athletes. Tergat is probably the most decorated of the whole lot and the time he posted for the marathon in 2003 lasted as a record for seven years and still makes him the 5th fastest marathon runner ever.
Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich
In 2013 Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich ran the fastest time ever for a marathon at 2:03:23 in Berlin, the first recorded time of a marathon was in 1908 by a runner called Johnny Hayes, and the time Kiprotich set in Berlin was an incredible 20% faster. Up to the current day no runner has ever ran a sub-two-hour marathon, the grueling rave is yet to be conquered under two hours but Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich has come the closest. As this incredible Kenyan runner is still competing odd are that it will be him to do it.
Born in Morocco, Khalid Khannouchi became an American citizen in 2000, and perhaps his most well-known accomplishment was when he beat his own record marathon run in London 2002. Only three other runners have ever done this which puts Khannouchi among the marathon elite.
His career was plagued with injuries which held him back for most of his short career. Without this misfortune who knows how well this runner might have been. He has recorded nine major race wins, one world marathon record all in a fifteen-year career.
All the middle and long-distance runners we have mentioned have a unique combination of courage, endurance and talent. Without just one of these qualities they would not have succeeded, and the runners mentioned had all three and that is why they became some of the top athletes on the planet.