Birhanu Legese -- Best marathon runner

Birhanu Legese: Ethiopia’s Marathon Marvel

A Rising Sprinter

Born and raised in Woliso, Ethiopia, Birhanu Legese initially showcased his talent as a sprinter, winning local titles in the 100 meters and 200 meters. Little did the world know that this young athlete would go on to conquer the world of long-distance running.

Early Success in 10K Races

In 2012, at the age of 18, Legese transitioned to 10-kilometer races, finishing second at the prestigious Great Ethiopian Run. His international debut was equally impressive when he clinched victory at the Corrida de Houilles in France.

World’s Third-Fastest 10K Road Time in 2013

In 2013, Legese, still a teenager, secured second place in the 10-kilometer race in Taroudant, Morocco, with a remarkable time of 27 minutes and 34 seconds. This performance earned him the title of having the third-fastest 10K road time globally for the year.

Triumph in Half Marathons

Stepping up to half marathons in 2015, Legese continued to dazzle the running world. He claimed victory at the Berlin Half Marathon with a time of 59 minutes and 45 seconds. His impressive form continued as he won the Delhi Half Marathon, recording a blazing time of 59 minutes and 20 seconds, ranking as the joint third-fastest time worldwide in that year.

Consecutive Half Marathon Victories

Legese’s dominance extended to the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates in 2016, where he finished first in 1 hour and 40 seconds. He once again triumphed in the New Delhi Half Marathon in 2017, clocking a time of 59 minutes and 46 seconds.

Marathon Debut in Dubai

January 2018 marked a significant milestone in Legese’s career when he made his marathon debut at the Dubai Marathon. He finished sixth with a commendable time of 2 hours, 4 minutes, and 15 seconds, hinting at his potential for greatness in the longer distances.

Tokyo Marathon Victory in Challenging Conditions

In March 2019, at the age of 24, Legese secured his most significant victory to date by winning his first World Marathon Major at the Tokyo Marathon. Despite cold and rainy conditions, he dominated the field with a time of 2 hours, 4 minutes, and 48 seconds, showcasing his ability to excel even in challenging environments.

Runner-Up in the Berlin Marathon

Later that same year, Legese participated in the prestigious Berlin Marathon, where he finished second with an astonishing time of 2 hours, 2 minutes, and 48 seconds. This remarkable performance solidified his position as the third-fastest marathoner in history, trailing only Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele.

Back-to-Back Tokyo Marathon Wins

Legese successfully defended his title at the 2020 Tokyo Marathon, emerging victorious with a time of 2 hours, 4 minutes, and 15 seconds. His consistency in delivering exceptional performances in marathons was evident.

Continued Success in Marathons

In December 2020, Legese participated in the Valencia Marathon, finishing third with a time of 2 hours and 3 minutes. This marathon performance ranked as the 13th fastest in history, underscoring his consistency in achieving world-class times.

Competing in London Marathons

Legese ventured to the London Marathon in 2021 and 2022, securing the fifth and sixth positions, respectively. His presence in these prestigious events highlighted his stature as a top-tier marathon runner.

Personal Bests

Birhanu Legese’s personal best times in various distances are a testament to his remarkable abilities:

  • 1500 Meters: 3 minutes and 44.07 seconds
  • 3000 Meters: 7 minutes and 51.09 seconds
  • 5000 Meters: 13 minutes and 8.88 seconds
  • 10 Kilometers: 27 minutes and 34 seconds
  • Half Marathon: 59 minutes and 20 seconds
  • Marathon: 2 hours, 2 minutes, and 48 seconds (Berlin, 2019)
Exciting Future with NN Running Team

Birhanu Legese is currently part of the NN Running Team, managed by Global Sports Communication. His continued development and potential for future achievements make him one of the most exciting talents in the world of marathon running.

Looking Ahead: Sub-2:03 Marathon

After his remarkable performance in Berlin, there is anticipation surrounding Birhanu Legese’s return to the Tokyo Marathon. Race director Tad Hayano believes that Legese has the potential to break the 2 hours and 3 minutes barrier, marking the fastest marathon ever clocked in Japan.

Intense Battle for Olympic Spot

In addition to his quest for faster marathon times, Legese will be part of an intense competition for a spot on the Japanese Olympic men’s marathon team. To secure the last ticket for Tokyo 2020, an athlete must beat the Japan Association of Athletics Federation’s set time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 49 seconds. This battle promises to be as thrilling as the race for first place.


Birhanu Legese’s journey from a promising sprinter to a world-class marathon runner is a testament to his dedication, talent, and determination. His remarkable performances on the global stage, including victories in prestigious marathons and consistently fast times, have established him as one of Ethiopia’s brightest running stars. As he continues to pursue faster marathon records and Olympic dreams, the running world eagerly anticipates the next chapter in the incredible career of Birhanu Legese.