Who Are the Most Popular Long-Distance Runners in the World?

Long-distance running has been experiencing a real boom in the past several decades. The marathon and half-marathon have become the two most popular formats. The number of runners is increasing every year, as more and more people flock to the starting point. 

Thanks to that, elite long-distance runners are getting more attention and more media coverage. They train all year round and do some of the most unimaginable feats, so they definitely deserve it. But who are they actually? 

Here are the five most popular long-distance runners in the world right now, in our opinion.

1. Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge comes from Kenya and is one of the best runners in the world. He won the gold medal in the Rio Olympics Marathon race and came minutes from breaking the two-hour barrier. So far, nobody has managed to run a marathon in less than two hours, but it seems that Eliud has the highest chances to do that. 

He is a highly decorated athlete since he has won several other Olympic medals so far. Apart from the marathon, he also specializes in 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter races, where he excels as well.

2. Mo Farah

Mo Farah is one of those runners that even people who are not keen on running have probably heard about. He is a huge celebrity in Great Britain and one of the best athletes this country has ever produced. 

His feats and medals tell more about his talent than we ever could. In 2012, during the London Olympics, he won both the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter races and went home with two gold medals. He repeated that achievement again in the 2016 Rio Olympics, becoming the absolute 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter champion.

3. Meseret Defar

Meseret Defar is one of the most popular and the best female long-distance runners in the world. In Amharic, her native language, her last name means “bold”, which beautifully describes her performance on the track. 

Her first Olympic gold came in 2004 when she won the 5,000-meter race, an accomplishment she has completed numerous times since then. Apart from the 5,000-meter discipline, she is also a formidable opponent when it comes to 3,000-meter races.

4. Almaz Ayana

Almaz Ayana is one of the most talented long-distance runners in the world at the moment. In 2016, she won the 10,000-meter world record which was set in 1993 and won the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She smashed the previous record by an incredible 14 seconds, which is an eternity in the world of running.

Almaz Ayana was also considered to be one of the best runners in the world in 2016, along with Usain Bolt in the men’s world. She is just 27 years old at the moment, so there is still plenty of time for her to set new world records. 

5. Molly Huddle

Last but not least, let’s take a short trip to the USA and give some well-deserved attention to Molly Huddle. She is a 34-year-old American long-distance runner who specializes in track and cross country disciplines. 

After she broke the American 10,000-meter record at the 2016 Rio Olympics, she decided to test her skills in a marathon. She finished her first marathon race in third place and plans to continue competing in this category.