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Endurance champs The Swiss are the world’s fastest marathon runners


The Jungfrau marathon had the most number of finishers (3,847) for a Swiss 42.1 km race in 2018. 

(Keystone/anthony Anex)

The largest study of race results has revealed that Swiss efficiency stretches to marathon running as well, with an average finishing time of 3h50m37s.

Statistician Jens Jakob Andersen and mathematician Vania Nikolova analysed over 19 million marathon finishing times from across the globe between 2008 and 2018 to arrive at the results that were released on Wednesdayexternal link.

“Over the past 11 years, the Swiss have improved by 14:56 minutes, whereas the world average, has seen finish time declines of 3:55 minutes. Basically, the Swiss runners are 40 minutes faster than the average runner," says Andersen, founder of

The credit for improvement in Swiss times is largely due to better performances by Swiss women whose average finishing time of 3:49:13 is faster than men from most other countries including neighbours Germany, France, Italy and Austria. Despite having the fastest finishing times among women, Swiss women make up a mere 12% of marathon runners in the country (global average is around 31%).

The sport of marathon running has also seen an increase in popularity in Switzerland. Over the past 11 years, growth in participation increased by 75% compared to the global growth of around 40%.

Podium places

Fastest overall: Switzerland (3:50:37), Netherlands (3:52:10) and Spain (3:52:25)

Fastest men: Spain (3:49:09), Netherlands (3:49:18) and Portugal (3:54:55). Swiss men take 4th place (3:54:59)

Fastest women: Switzerland (3:49:13), Netherlands (3:59:04) and Spain (4:12:22)

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