How Long Do Marathons Take?

How long do marathons take?

Are you wondering, “how long do marathons take?” ahead of the big day? The average varies, but most people can expect to cross the line after four hours. 

If you’re considering running a marathon, you might be wondering how long do marathons take. The average time to run a marathon varies widely depending on several factors. In general, it takes more than four hours to run a marathon.

What Is Considered Good Marathon Time?

Globally, the average time it takes to run a marathon is between four hours and 13 minutes for men and four hours and 42 minutes for women.

Here are some statistics on average marathon times.

  • 4% of men and 1% of women: Less than three hours
  • 43% of men and 21% of women: Less than four hours
  • 81% of men and 65% of women: Less than five hours
  • 97% of men and 91% of women: Less than six hours

Factors That Affect Marathon Time

In addition to physical fitness, several different factors affect how long it will take you to run a marathon.


How Long Do Marathons Take
Running in all types of weather

The most important factor in running your best marathon is your training. Marathon running isn’t something you can just hop up and do, even if you’re a regular runner. A solid training program should include running in all types of weather and running several miles every week.

Check out our guide on how long do I need to train for a marathon.


When you train for marathons, you burn more calories than normal. For this intense exercise, you need to eat plenty of energy-dense foods.

Before a marathon day, most runners load up on pasta, bread, and other foods high in carbohydrates.

You might find our explainer on when to take energy gels during a marathon useful.


It’s not enough to drink plenty of fluids while running your marathon. You also have to be well-hydrated before your race starts.

Equally important, remember to hydrate after your race, so you don’t become dehydrated. Keep in mind that dehydration has a huge impact on finish time and running performance.


Your pace will significantly affect how long it takes to run a marathon. If you’re an experienced runner, you may already know your pace, and this will help you to plan how long your marathon will take. 

New runners should log miles for a few weeks to get a good sense of their pace. 

Course Conditions

The terrain will impact how quickly you get through a marathon. For example, running in areas that are at a higher elevation can affect your race time. Running uphill takes longer, but you can spend time training for this. 

Fit couple running up the mountain trail
Running uphill takes longer but you can spend time training for this


It’s difficult to predict the weather, and even with weather forecasts, things can change. The best way to be prepared for any weather is to train in various weather conditions. 

Additionally, the summer heat can help you run better in colder months. Naturally, the rain slows down your race. Check out our explainer on how are marathons timed

FAQs About How Long Do Marathons Take

What Is The Slowest Time For A Marathon?

In 1912, a man named Kanaguri Shiso went to Stockholm to represent Japan as the country’s first Olympic marathon competitor. He started his race, but after accepting a glass of juice, he fell asleep and failed to finish the race.
When he was 75 years old in 1967, he started at the point where he stopped in his previous attempt. From there, he finished his marathon. It took him 54 years, eight months, six days, three hours, 32 minutes, and 20.3 seconds to finish his marathon.

Is It OK To Walk A Marathon?

Yes, you can walk a marathon, and the number of marathon walkers has grown in recent years. Moreover, many race organizers are starting to make arrangements to ensure their races are friendly for walkers.

What Happens If You Can’t Finish A Marathon?

If you can’t finish a race, it’s called a DNF (did not finish). Most dedicated runners have experienced this at least once.
Many larger races have sweep buses. These buses move through the course and pick up walkers and runners who have come in behind the cut-off time pace or have been injured.
If your race doesn’t have a sweep bus, look along the course for race officials who can help you.