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The Fastest Mile Time: Top 5 for Men and Women

In the time it takes you to cook a five-minute meal in the microwave, elite-level runners have finished their 1-mile run — with time to spare. More impressively, some of these athletes continue to show that we have yet to reach the limit for physical achievements by shaving fractions off the fastest mile time.

To learn more about these incredible feats, we dug into the official records from World Athletics, the world governing authority for athletics. Here are the men and women who have become mile record holders.

5 Fastest Mile Times for Women

The top five fastest mile times for women were all under 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

5. Ciara Mageean

On July 21, 2023, Ciara Mageean ran the women's mile race in 4:14.58 at the Diamond League meet, which took place at Stade Louis II in Monaco.

That day, she may not have won the race (that honor went to another runner on this list), but she did beat the record of fellow Irish runner Sonia O'Sullivan, who, with a time of 4:17.26, held the record in Ireland since 1994. Mageean also beat her own personal fastest mile run (4:19.03), set in 2019.

4. Genzebe Dibaba

Genzebe Dibaba, of Ethiopia, ran a mile in 4:13.31 at the Globe Arena in Stockholm on February 17, 2016. That day she beat the world indoor mile record that Doina Melinte of Romania previously set in 1990. (She has broken other indoor world records.)

One competitive advantage she had was that she had run the track before. "I know this track well, and it is very good for me," Dibaba said at the time. "The only thing that was difficult was the conditions in the arena — it felt very cold."

3. Svetlana Masterkova

Russian runner Svetlana Masterkova ran a 4:12.56 mile on August 14, 1996, in Zürich. She achieved the fast mile time 18 months after giving birth to her first child. "I knew when I was carrying the baby I wanted to get back to running — and I did in two months," she said in 1996.

She held the world record until 2019.

2. Sifan Hassan

At Stade Louis II in Monaco on July 12, 2019, Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan ran a mile in 4.12:33. While she didn't beat her previous personal best (4:14.71) by "three or four seconds," as she intended, she did make history and become a world champion for the mile run.

1. Faith Kipyegon

Faith Kipyegon became a world record holder on July 21, 2023, at the Diamond League race. She ran the mile distance in 4:07.64, almost five seconds faster than Hassan.

The Kenyan athlete, whose running coach is Patrick Sang, said: "I really enjoyed the race. I came for that. I wanted to chase the world record and thanks god, it was amazing."

5 Fastest Mile Times for Men

The top five mile times for men all took place in either Italy or Oregon.

5. Noureddine Morceli

In 1993, Noureddine Morceli, of Algeria, raced at Rieti in Italy and became a world champion with his 3:44.39 time. He held the title until 1999.

He beat fellow competitors by 11 seconds and said the right conditions helped him reach success. "I'd been close three times this season, but never had good atmospheric conditions," Morceli said.

4. Yared Nuguse

Yared Nuguse, an athlete from the United States, ran the mile in 3:43:97 on September 16, 2023, at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Nuguse began running as a high school freshman. He ran a fast timed mile in his PE class, and his coach Tim Holman became determined to get him to join track.

"I was like, 'No, I'm not really a sporting person, sorry," Nuguse said. "[Holman] kept persisting and being annoying about it, so I was like, 'OK, I'll do it.' But it ended up being a really, really fun track season and one of a lot of learning."

3. Jakob Ingebrigtsen

Facing off against Nuguse and other athletes, Jakob Ingebrigsten, of Norway, ran 3:43.73 in Oregon on September 16, 2023. He comes from a running family.

2. Noah Ngeny

On July 7, 1999, Kenyan runner Noah Ngeny ran a 3:43.40 mile at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

1. Hicham El Guerrouj

With a run time of 3:43.13, Hicham El Guerrouj, of Morocco, became the mile record holder for men. No other runner has been able to break the record he set on July 7, 1999, in Rome.

What's a Good Mile Time for a Nonprofessional Runner?

Average mile times for intermediate adult runners (people who are faster than 50 percent of similar demographics) range from roughly 6:37 to 10:21, depending on several variables which include age, sex and fitness level.

  • Age plays a significant role, as younger runners often have faster times due to higher recovery rates.

  • Men typically have faster average times than women of a similar age and training level, due to physiological differences in muscle mass and cardiorespiratory efficiency.

  • Training intensity — including frequency, duration and type (e.g., interval vs. long-distance training) — directly impacts performance, enabling improvements in speed and endurance.

This article was created in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

Original article: The Fastest Mile Time: Top 5 for Men and Women

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