Meet 10 of the Best Male Runners on Earth
Recently, we covered some of the best female runners on Earth. Now it’s the men’s turn! There are many different ways to compile a “Best Of” list, but in these two Runnerclick segments the criteria are the best ten international modern day male runners in all categories, chosen by highest medals and world records won. As mentioned in the previous post, it’s absolutely impossible to make a shortlist that comes even close to including all of the incredibly talented runners. There are so many accomplished athletes all over the world, both in the past and present day! Nevertheless, here is a list of our top ten. Enjoy!
Eliud Kipchoge, marathon and long distance. Hailing from the Nandi district in Kenya, 33-year-old Eliud is especially unique because he began his career in the 3,000 and 5,000-meter races, winning countless medals from 2002 to 2016 (including 6 gold medals, one of those at the 2010 Commonwealth Games). But in 2012 he switched to road running, running his first half marathon with the second fastest time marathon debut on record at 59:25. He then won the London Marathon and Berlin Marathon three times each between 2015 and 2018. In 2016, he won the marathon gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. And in 2018, he broke the marathon world record by a staggering minute and 20 seconds with a time of 2:01:39! Eliud has won almost every single marathon he has entered, and is rightly described as “the greatest marathoner of all time”.
Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich, marathon. Another accomplished Kenyan athlete, Wilson Kiprotich broke the then world record with a time of 2:03:23 in the 2013 Berlin Marathon (he is also the only person to beat Eliud Kipchoge in a marathon). Since 2007, Wilson has won dozens of gold medals at marathons around the world: New York City Marathon, Berlin Marathon, London Marathon, Tokyo Marathon and Frankfurt Marathon (just to name a few). The 36-year-old athlete was one of the first people in the world to beat a 2:05 marathon time on five different occasions. He won the bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics marathon event.
Sir Mohamed Muktar Jama “Mo” Farah, long distance. Originally born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Mo Farah is one of the greatest distance runners to come out of the United Kingdom. The 35-year-old star won the gold medal in the 5,000 meters and 10,000-meter events in the 2012 London Olympics, followed by winning gold for the same events in the 2016 Rio Olympics (he is only the second athlete in Olympic Games history to accomplish this). With ten global titles, in all of British Athletics History, Mo is currently the most decorated athlete and was even knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017.
Scott Jurek, ultramarathon. Scott Jurek is rightly called a living legend. Any conversation about endurance or ultra runs begins and ends with this remarkable runner. Scott set the speed record for the grueling Appalachian Trail (46 days, eight hours, seven minutes) and beat the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run for an incredible seven years straight, just to name a couple of his running feats. The 41-year-old Minnesota native now lives and trains in Colorado, and is known for publicly sharing his journey in becoming one of the world’s most successful vegan athletes.
Usain Bolt, track and field. This would hardly be a list of the top ten runners in the world without mentioning track superstar Usain Bolt. He’s called “the fastest man on Earth” for good reason, holding the world record for the 100 meters and 200-meter sprints. The Jamaican athlete’s international debut was at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he took home the gold medals for the 100 meter, 200 meter, and 4×100 meter relay events. Usain went on to win the same consecutive Olympic events in the 2015 Beijing and 2016 Rio Olympics, is the only athlete ever to do so. He holds the second highest number (19) of World Guinness Records in the sport of running. Nicknamed the “Lightning Bolt”, Usain has now crossed over to the world of soccer.
Ryan Atkins, obstacle course racing. Canadian Ryan Atkins is one of the fiercest OCR competitors in the world. The 30-year-old’s accomplished record includes being the reigning Tough Mudder Champion five years in a row, winning the 2017 U.S. Spartan Race, and grabbing the OCR World Champion (3km) title in 2016. Ryan is a prolific racer, entering and winning many other grueling races such as the Winter Ultra Marathon and North Face Endurance Challenge. Fun fact: he is married to Lindsay Webster, another OCR World Champion featured in our Female Top Ten Runners.
Jonathan “Jon” Albon, obstacle course racing. Jon Albon is a former Spartan Race World Champion and the reining Obstacle Course Racing World Champion, having won the title in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 (the 2018 championship will be held later this month). Originally from Essex, England, the 29-year-old is also a champion in the newer sport of skyrunning – extreme mountain running above 2,000 meters elevation where the incline exceeds 30%. Not for the faint-hearted.
Kenenisa Bekele, long distance. Ethiopian runner Kenenisa Bekele currently holds the record for the 5,000 meters (12:37:35) and 10,000 meters (26:17:53) races. He’s won an astonishing 23 gold medals in the sport of running, including the gold medals for the 5,000 meter and 10,000-meter events at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. In the past few years, Bekele has crossed over into marathon running with a course record-breaking debut at the 2014 Paris Marathon.
Ryan Hall, marathon. Washington native Ryan Hall holds the U.S. half-marathon record with a time of 59:43, becoming the first American to run the event in under one hour. 35-year-old Ryan also became the first American to run a marathon in under 2:05 at the 2011 Boston Marathon, with a run time of 2:04:58. He won the marathon at the 2008 United States Olympic Trials, placing tenth in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Wayde van Niekerk, track and field. South African Wayde van Niekerk currently holds the world and Olympic record in the 400-meter event and holds the world-best time in the 300 meters. The 26-year-old from Cape Town is undeniably one of the faster sprinters in the world, becoming the first and only sprinter in history to run 100 meters in under ten seconds, 200 meters in under 20 seconds, and 400 meters in under 44 seconds. Wayde won the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in the 400-meter event, and in the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.