The New York City Marathon: Evolution of the Women’s Course Record
Since 1971, when women first competed in the New York City Marathon, the course record has improved 32:51 from 2:55:22 to 2:22:31. As the course record evolved, so did the course, with the most significant change coming in 1976, when the course left the confines of Central Park to follow a route through the five boroughs of New York City.
Women have established five world records on the New York City Marathon Course. The first came in 1971, when Beth Bonner clocked 2:55:22 on the course within Central Park. From 1978 to 1980, Grete Waitz, of Norway, posted three consecutive world records of 2:32:30, 2:27:33, and 2:25:42 in winning the first three of nine New York City Marathons. Allison Roe apparently lowered the world record to 2:25:29 in 1981, but subsequent measurement found to be about 150 meters short of 26.2 miles, thereby, annulling the mark as a world record.
Evolution of the Women’s Course Record
1971 Beth Bonner (United States) 2:55:22 (WR)
Bonner, who held the world record for women in the marathon at 3:01:42, won the first women’s race associated with the New York City Marathon in 1971. Her winning time of 2:55:22, the first legitimate clocking under three-hour by a woman, marked a new world record for the event.
1975 Kim Merritt (United States) 2:46:14
Merritt lowered the course record to 2:46:14 in 1975, the last time the race was held entirely in Central Park.
1976 Miki Gorman (United States) 2:39:11
Chinese born American Miki Gorman, who held the world record of 2:46:36 from 1973 to 1974, established the course record of 2:39:11 in 1976; her time came on the first running of the new course through the five boroughs of New York City.
1978 Grete Waitz (Norway) 2:32:30 (2:32:29.8) (WR)
Waitz won the first of nine New York City Marathons in the course record time of 2:32:29.8, which at the time marked a women’s world record for the event.
1979 Grete Waitz (Norway) 2:27:33 (2:27:32.6) (WR)
Waitz won her second New York City Marathon in the course record time of 2:27:32.6, which marked the first marathon run by a woman under two-hours thirty minutes, and a world record for the event.
1980 Grete Waitz (Norway) 2:25:42 (2:25:41.3) (WR)
Waitz won her third New York City Marathon in the course record time of 2:25:41.3, which marked a world record for the event.
1981 Allison Roe (New Zealand) 2:25:29
Roe established a course record of 2:25:29 in winning the New York City Marathon in 1981. The time stood as a world record until subsequent measurement of the course revealed it was about 150 meters short of 26.2 miles. Although Waitz produced world records over the same course from 1978 to 1980, her times were allowed to remain as world records
1992 Lisa Ondieki (Australia) 2:24:40
Ondieki established a course record of 2:24:40 in 1992.
2001 Margaret Okayo (Kenya) 2:24:21
Okayo won the first two New York City Marathons in the course record of 2:24:21.
2003 Margaret Okayo (Kenya) 2:22:31
Okayo established the current course record of 2:22:31 in winning her second New York City Marathon in 2003.
Association of Road Racing Statisticians, World Marathon Rankings for 1981,” ARRS Website
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), World Record Progression, 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, IAAF Statistics Handbook, Berlin 2009 (IAAF Media and Public Relations Department, 2009)
Peter Larsson, “All-time Women’s Best Marathon,” Track and Field All-Time Performances Homepage
New York City Marathon Website
NYC Marathon Results Archive