Marathon Runners

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Marathoners are the recreational or professional runners who participate in a marathon. The marathon is a long-distance running event usually run as a road race. A marathon officially covers a distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards). The marathon is one of the major Olympic events, first included in the modern Olympics in 1896. Marathons are very popular sporting events with more than 500 marathons being held throughout the world each year. Both professional runners and recreational athletes take part in marathons. Professional runners who rank among the top-finishers in major marathons earn good monetary rewards. There are also certain athletes who charge appearance fees for entering high-profile marathons. It is also common for celebrities from other fields like show business to participate in a marathon in order to promote some social cause. To run a marathon, the participants need to be in peak physical and mental conditions as the long-distance race is as much a test of their strength and endurance as it of their determination and resilience. Marathon running is also not without its risks; common risks include injury, fatigue, sprains and dehydration. Browse this section to explore about the life and works of various famous marathoners from all over the world.

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 1 
Eliud Kipchoge
(Kenyan Long-Distance Runner and the Greatest Marathon Runner of All Time)
Eliud Kipchoge
6
Birthdate: November 5, 1984
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kapsisiywa, Nandi County, Kenya
 2 
Kenenisa Bekele
(Ethiopian Long-Distance Runner and 3-Time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Kenenisa Bekele
6
Birthdate: June 13, 1982
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bekoji, Ethiopia

Ethiopian long-distance runner Kenenisa Bekele is not just a 3-time Olympic gold medalist but has also won the World Championship gold 5 times. He also has 11 World Cross Country Championship gold medals in his kitty. Initially a master of the 5,000m and 10,000m categories, he later focused on marathons.

 3 
Haile Gebrselassie
(Former Ethiopian Long-Distance Track Athlete and Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist)
Haile Gebrselassie
14
Birthdate: April 18, 1973
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Assela, Ethiopia

Ethiopian Olympic legend and businessman, Haile Gebrselassie, a retired long-distance, road and track running athlete, is counted among the greatest distance runners in history. He set 27 world records in athletics and broke 61 Ethiopian national records. His achievements include winning two Olympic gold medals, four World Championship titles, four World Indoor Championship titles and one World Half Marathon Championship.  

 4 
Abebe Bikila
(First African to Win Olympic Gold Medal and First Athlete to Win Two Olympic Marathons Back-to-Back)
Abebe Bikila
8
Birthdate: July 7, 1932
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Shewa, Ethiopia
Died: October 25, 1973

Ethiopian marathon runner, Abebe Bikil,a became the first black African Olympic gold medalist at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Four years later, he won his second gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He created world record both the times. A pioneer in long-distance running, he participated in a total of 16 marathons. 

 5 
Frank Shorter
(American Former Long-Distance Runner Who Won the Gold Medal in the Marathon at the 1972 Summer Olympics)
Frank Shorter
3
Birthdate: October 31, 1947
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
 6 
Mary Jepkosgei Keitany
(Long-distance runner, Marathon runner)
Mary Jepkosgei Keitany
5
Birthdate: January 18, 1982
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kabarnet, Baringo County, Kenya
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 7 
Dennis Kipruto Kimetto
(Kenyan Marathon Runner)
Dennis Kipruto Kimetto
5
Birthdate: April 22, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kenya
 8 
Wim Hof
(Dutch Extreme Athlete Known for His Ability to Withstand Low Temperatures)
Wim Hof
4
Birthdate: April 20, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands

Wim Hof, or The Iceman, is a Dutch extreme athlete and motivational speaker who holds a Guinness record for the fastest half-marathon completed barefoot on ice/snow. He has also devised the Wim Hof Method, which helps one gain control over one’s body through extreme cold tolerance.

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 9 
David Goggins
(Ultramarathon runner)
David Goggins
6
Birthdate: February 17, 1975
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Buffalo, New York, United States
 10 
Dean Karnazes
(American Ultramarathon Runner, and Author of 'Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner')
Dean Karnazes
4
Birthdate: August 23, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Inglewood, California, United States

Dean Karnazes began running for fun while in kindergarten; taking diversionary routes while returning home from school. Slowly, he started taking it more seriously, running a marathon to the South Pole in 2002, embarking on the Endurance 50: 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days in 2006.  Currently a businessperson, he has also written a book on marathon.

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 11 
Geoffrey Mutai
(Marathon runner)
Geoffrey Mutai
5
Birthdate: October 7, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Koibatek District, Kenya
 12 
Zola Budd
(Former South African Middle-Distance and Long-Distance Runner)
Zola Budd
6
Birthdate: May 26, 1966
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bloemfontein, South Africa

Zola Budd is a South African former athlete who used to compete in long-distance and middle-distance running. Budd represented Great Britain at the 1984 Olympic Games before representing South Africa at the 1992 Olympic Games. Zola Budd also took part in the 1985 and 1986 World Cross Country Championships, winning gold medals on both occasions.

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 13 
Emil Zatopek
(Czech Long-Distance Runner Who Was Considered One of the Greatest Runners of the 20th Century)
Emil Zatopek
4
Birthdate: September 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kopřivnice, Czech Republic
Died: November 21, 2000

Winner of four Olympic golds, three of which came from the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Czech long-distance runner Emil Zatopek came to be known as the Czech Locomotive and The Bouncing Czech for his speed. He lost his Communist Party membership for criticizing the 1968 Soviet takeover of Czechoslovakia.

 14 
Khalid Khannouchi
(Long-distance runner)
Khalid Khannouchi
5
Birthdate: September 12, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Meknes, Morocco
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 15 
Billy Mills
(American Long-Distance Runner)
Billy Mills
3
Birthdate: June 30, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pine Ridge, South Dakota, United States
 16 
Carlos Lopes
(Portuguese Former Long-Distance Runner)
Carlos Lopes
3
Birthdate: February 18, 1947
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Viseu, Portugal

Carlos Lopes is a Portuguese retired athlete who specialized in long-distance running. He is best known for winning the gold medal in the men's marathon event at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He was the first Olympic gold medalist from Portugal. Carlos Lopes also won three gold medals at the World Cross Country Championships between 1976 and 1985.

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 17 
Fauja Singh
(British Marathon Runner)
Fauja Singh
6
Birthdate: April 1, 1911
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Beas Pind, Punjab, India

Indian Sikh marathon runner Fauja Singh, who later moved to the U.K., made history by becoming the oldest person to complete a marathon, at age 100. His biography, Fauja Singh Keeps Going, became a bestseller. It is believed, the death of his fifth son motivated him to follow his passion.

 18 
Genzebe Dibaba
(Ethiopian Middle-and-Long-Distance Runner)
Genzebe Dibaba
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1991
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bekoji, Ethiopia

Genzebe Dibaba is an Ethiopian athlete who specializes in middle and long-distance running. She is best known for winning a silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games. Prior to 2016, she had success at the 2015 World Championships where she won gold and a bronze medal. Genzebe Dibaba has also won five gold medals at the World Indoor Championships.

 19 
Mamo Wolde
(Ethiopian Long Distance Runner and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Mamo Wolde
3
Birthdate: June 12, 1932
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ada'a, Ethiopia
Died: May 26, 2002

Ethiopian Olympic legend Degaga "Mamo" Wolde, an international distance running star, was a cross-country, road and track running athlete. He won gold medal in men’s marathon event and silver medal in 10000 m event at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico. Wolde bagged his third Olympic medal, a bronze, at the 1972 Olympic marathon in Munich, West Germany.

 20 
Brigid Kosgei
(Marathon runner)
Brigid Kosgei
6
Birthdate: February 20, 1994
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sinon, Kapsowar, Kenya
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 21 
Alberto Salazar
(Former Track Coach and Long-Distance Runner)
Alberto Salazar
4
Birthdate: August 7, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Havana, Cuba

Alberto Salazar is an American former long-distance runner who won the silver medal at the 1982 IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Rome, Italy. After his retirement from the sport, Salazar served as the head coach for the Nike Oregon Project and received the 2013 IAAF Coaching Achievement Award in Monaco. He was later banned for doping and sexual offenses.

 22 
Shizo Kanakuri
(Japanese Marathon Runner Known as the ‘Father of the Marathon')
Shizo Kanakuri
3
Birthdate: August 20, 1891
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nagomi, Kumamoto, Japan
Died: November 13, 1983
 23 
Yiannis Kouros
(Ultramarathon runner)
Yiannis Kouros
3
Birthdate: February 13, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tripoli, Greece

Known as The Running God and The Golden Greek, Yiannis Kouros was the greatest ultramarathon runner from Greece. Born into poverty, he was forced into manual labor at age five and decided to run professionally at age 16 only. Often compared to Pheidippides, he later played the character in a movie.

 24 
Feyisa Lilesa
(Ethiopian Long-Distance Runner)
Feyisa Lilesa
5
Birthdate: February 1, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oromia, Ethiopia

Feyisa Lilesa is an Ethiopian athlete who specializes in long-distance running. He achieved popularity in 2010 when he became the youngest man to complete the men's marathon at the NN Rotterdam Marathon under 2:06. He went on to win a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu. Feyisa Lilesa also won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics.

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 25 
Hannes Kolehmainen
(Finnish Athlete and 4-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Who Was One of the 'Flying Finns')
Hannes Kolehmainen
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1889
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kuopio, Finland
Died: January 11, 1966

Legendary Finnish track and field athlete Hannes Kolehmainen was one of the Flying Finns and had won 4 Olympic gold medals and a silver. Known for undergoing rigorous training sessions, he also maintained a vegetarian diet. Though a bricklayer by profession, he had a sports-loving family and 2 brothers who were long-distance runners.

 26 
Tirunesh Dibaba
(The Youngest Female World Champion in Long-Distance Track Event)
Tirunesh Dibaba
8
Birthdate: June 1, 1985
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bekoji, Ethiopia

Ethiopian distance runner Tirunesh Dibaba scripted history by becoming the youngest female World Champion, in 2003, when she was a little over 18 years. She is also the first female to win the Olympic 5,000m/10,000m double. The 5-time World Champion is also a 3-time Olympic gold medalist.

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 27 
Meb Keflezighi
(American Long Distance Runner Who Won a Silver Medal in the 2004 Olympics)
Meb Keflezighi
4
Birthdate: May 5, 1975
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Asmara, Eritrea
 28 
Tiki Gelana
(Ethiopian Long-Distance Runner Who Specializes in Marathon)
Tiki Gelana
3
Birthdate: October 22, 1987
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jijiga, Ethiopia

Tiki Gelana is an Ethiopian athlete who specializes in long-distance running. She achieved popularity in 2012 when she won the gold medal and created a new Olympic record in the women's marathon event at the Olympic Games in London. From 2012 to 2017, Tiki Gelana held the Ethiopian national record for marathon with a personal best time of 2:18:58.

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 29 
Spiridon Louis
(Greek Water Carrier, Marathon Runner and Olympic Gold Medalist)
Spiridon Louis
3
Birthdate: January 12, 1873
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Marousi, Greece
Died: March 26, 1940

Spiridon Louis was a Greek water carrier-turned-national hero. Louis achieved widespread popularity after becoming the first person to win the modern-day Olympic marathon at the 1896 Olympics in Athens. A former soldier, Louis is an example of an early rags-to-riches story where he wins the Olympic medal at a crucial moment and later becomes a police officer.

 30 
Ryan Hall
(Retired American Long-Distance Runner Who Holds the U.S. Record in the Half Marathon)
Ryan Hall
4
Birthdate: October 14, 1982
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kirkland, Washington, United States
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 31 
Grete Waitz
(Norwegian Marathon Runner and Former World Record Holder)
Grete Waitz
3
Birthdate: October 1, 1953
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oslo, Norway
Died: April 19, 2011

Grete Waitz was a Norwegian marathon runner who became the first female runner to complete a marathon in less than two and a half hours in 1979. A former world record holder, Waitz won a record nine New York City Marathons between 1978 and 1988. Grete Waitz is also remembered for winning the silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games.  

 32 
Waldemar Cierpinski
(German Marathon Runner and Two Time Olympic Champion)
Waldemar Cierpinski
3
Birthdate: August 3, 1950
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Neugattersleben, Nienburg, Germany
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 33 
Cliff Young
(Winner of the Inaugural 'Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon' in 1983 at the age of 61)
Cliff Young
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1922
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Victoria, Australia
Died: November 2, 2003
 34 
Gezahegne Abera
(Ethiopian Athlete Who Specializes in Marathon Races)
Gezahegne Abera
3
Birthdate: April 23, 1978
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ethiopia

Gezahegne Abera is an Ethiopian athlete who specializes in marathon races. He is best known for winning the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics. He won the medal at the age of 22, becoming the youngest marathon winner since 1932 when Juan Carlos Zabala won the race. Abera went on to win the gold medal at the 2001 World Championships.

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 35 
Alain Mimoun
(French Marathon Runner)
Alain Mimoun
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1921
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Telagh, Algeria
Died: June 27, 2013
 36 
Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich
(Long-distance running)
Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich
3
Birthdate: March 15, 1982
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Keiyo District, Kenya
 37 
Lelisa Desisa
(World Champion Ethiopian Long-Distance Runner)
Lelisa Desisa
3
Birthdate: January 14, 1990
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Shewa, Oromia, Ethiopia

Two-time Boston Marathon-winning Ethiopian long-distance runner Lelisa Desisa has also been a World Champion, an All-Africa Games Champion, and an African Junior Champion. A road running expert, he had also won the 2018 New York Marathon. His personal best has been 10,000m in a little over 27 minutes.  

 38 
Selemon Barega
(Ethiopian Long-Distance Runner ana Olympic Gold Medalist)
Selemon Barega
3
Birthdate: January 20, 2000
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gurage, Ethiopia

Ethiopian long-distance runner Selemon Barega is not just an Olympic gold medalist but has also won a World Championship silver medal. Considered a rising star in the racing circle, he excels in 3,000m, 5,000m, and 10,000m. He has also been a Diamond League champion in 5,000m.

 39 
Catherine Ndereba
(Kenyan Long-Distance Runner)
Catherine Ndereba
3
Birthdate: July 21, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nyeri County, Kenya
 40 
Paul Tergat
(Long-distance runner)
Paul Tergat
3
Birthdate: June 17, 1969
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kenya
 41 
Lawrence Cherono
(Kenyan Long-Distance Runner)
Lawrence Cherono
3
Birthdate: August 7, 1988
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Eldoret, Kenya
 42 
Michele Graglia
(Ultramarathon runner)
Michele Graglia
3
Birthdate: August 30, 1983
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sanremo, Italy
 43 
Arthur Lydiard
(One of the Greatest Athletics Coaches of All Time)
Arthur Lydiard
3
Birthdate: July 6, 1917
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Died: December 11, 2004

Arthur Lydiard was a New Zealand athlete and coach. He is credited with popularizing running as a sport and making it mainstream across the sporting world. Arthur Lydiard is also credited with coaching legendary athletes like Peter Snell, who won two gold medals at the 1964 Summer Olympics under Lydiard's tutelage.

 44 
Satcha Pretto
(Honduran Journalist, TV Anchor and Marathon Runner)
Satcha Pretto
3
Birthdate: April 5, 1980
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: La Paz, Honduras

Satcha Pretto is a Honduran journalist best known for appearing as a news co-anchor in the popular American Spanish language television show, Despierta America. Over the years, she has received many recognitions for her work in broadcast journalism. In 2017, People en Espanol magazine included her in their 25 Most Powerful Women list.

 45 
Joan Benoit
(American Runner Who Won the First Women’s Olympic Marathon Title)
Joan Benoit
1
Birthdate: May 16, 1957
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cape Elizabeth, Maine, United States
 46 
Jim Peters
(Athlete)
Jim Peters
3
Birthdate: October 24, 1918
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 9, 1999
 47 
Wang Junxia
(Chinese Former Long-Distance Runner)
Wang Junxia
3
Birthdate: January 19, 1973
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jiaohe, Jilin City, China

Wang Junxia is a Chinese retired long-distance runner who currently holds the world record for 3000-metre run. From 1993 to 2016, she was the world record holder for the 10,000-metre run. After winning the 1993 World Championships, Wang went on to win the gold medal at the 1994 Asian Games for 10,000 meters. She won an Olympic gold in 1996.

 48 
Tegla Loroupe
(First African Woman to Hold the Marathon World Record)
Tegla Loroupe
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1979
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kenya
 49 
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot
(Marathon runner)
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot
2
Birthdate: September 26, 1978
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Eldoret, Kenya
 50 
Zersenay Tadese
(Long-distance track and road running athlete)
Zersenay Tadese
1
Birthdate: February 8, 1982
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Adi Bana, Derg Eritrea