Athletics Craziest World Records (10-6)

Letsenbet Gidey’s astonishing world half marathon record was not of this planet. But just how good was it and where does it rank in the list of craziest world records in athletics? Here’s ten to six.

10. Paula Radcliffe – London Marathon – April 2003

Within two years of taking to the event, Paula Radcliffe had broken the world record twice but it was her second that really pushed the event to a new level.

After winning Chicago in a new mixed race world record (2.17.18), Radcliffe came to London already in possession of the course record.

London wasn’t supposed to be the course to shatter the world record once more.

“I once said that London couldn’t be a fast course…”

Paula Radcliffe after winning London in 2003.

Two hours, fifteen minutes and twenty-five seconds later that illusion was shattered. Radcliffe’s time is still the second fastest in history, only bettered by Brigid Kosgei in an era of supershoes. That it has been broken is the only reason Radcliffe’s run doesn’t rank higher in athletics all-time craziest world records.

9. Jonathan Edwards – Gothenburg – July 1995

No this isn’t a British all-time list!

The 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg was the occasion where Edwards made his mark. Jumping a wind illegal 18.43m earlier in the year in the European Cup came to Sweden with only a pair of Commonwealth silvers to his name.

By the end of the final he had broken the world record twice. His first jump made him the first man to legally break 18 metres before jumping even further next time up. Edwards mark of 18.29m remains the furthest in history, over 26 years since he managed the feat.

Only six men in history have jumped over 18 metres. Edwards did it twice in one night.

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8. Genzebe Dibaba – Monaco – July 2015

Genzebe Dibaba’s place on this list is assured by virtue of just how mental the previous world record was. Qu Yunxia’s mark of 3.50.46 was run at the Chinese National Games in 1993 and broke the existing world record by over two seconds.

In the 22 years after Yunxia’s feat no athlete came within three seconds of her time, Dibaba herself running a personal best of 3.54.11 just nine days before Monaco.

When Dibaba set out at world record pace at the Stade Hercules only Sifan Hassan would dare follow. 60, 64, 60 once more, Dibaba would close the final 300m in just over 45 seconds to break Yunxia’s record.

No-one has got within a second of Dibaba’s 3.50.07 since.

7. Stefka Kostadinova – Rome – August 1987

High-jumper Stefka Kostadinova now possesses the third oldest world record in track and field. The Bulgarian possesses five of the top ten jumps in history and it is her 1987 Rome World Championship 2.09m winning jump that sets her apart.

Kostadinova is now head of the Bulgarian Athletics Federation and would add Olympic Gold to her resume in Atlanta 1996.

The best since? A 2.08m clearance by Blanka Vlasic in Zagreb in 2009. It is a mark that could last a few more years yet.

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6. Hicham El Guerrouj – Rome – July 1998

Hicham El Guerrouj has a very strong case for being the finest middle distance athlete in history. The Moroccan even has an argument to say this isn’t his best world record (The other being his 3.43.13 mile best).

But it is difficult to argue against El Guerrouj’s 1500m run in Rome being one of the best in athletics history.

3.26.00 he took 1.37 seconds off Noureddine Morceli’s 1995 mark and backed it up by finishing with seven of the nine fastest times ever.

Bernard Lagat and the banned Asbel Kiprop are the only to come within a second of his now 21-year-old record.

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Featured image “Paula Radcliffe” by ccho is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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