What is the slowest ever London Marathon time?

Joshua Rogers October 1, 2021
Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

The Virgin Money London Marathon 2021 will take place this Sunday (3 October). Amateur runners last raced at the event in 2019 because of covid restrictions, but this year they’ll be back in their thousands. The 26.2-mile race has produced a number of world records over the years, but what is the slowest London Marathon time ever?

The London Marathon returns in 2021 after two-year hiatus

The Virgin Money London Marathon is back for 2021 after a two-year hiatus.

Only elite races took place in 2020 because of covid restrictions, with amateurs last competing in April 2019.

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More than 40,000 runners are expected take to London’s streets on Sunday, 3 October, with a further 40,000 participating virtually.

This will be the first time the race has been held on its traditional course from Blackheath to The Mall in October rather than the spring.

Coverage of the London Marathon will be televised live on the BBC, starting at 8am on BBC Two.

It will then switch between BBC One and BBC Two throughout the day, with highlights airing from 6pm to 7pm on BBC Two.

Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

What is the slowest ever London Marathon time?

The London Marathon was founded by Olympic champion and journalist Chris Brasher and athlete John Disley in 1981.

Since then, the London Marathon has become the most popular running event in the world, with almost half a million runners applying to run last year’s race.

The race is famous for the amount of amateur runners it attracts, many of whom run in fancy dress in aid of charity.

However, it’s also a marathon for the world’s elite.

The men’s course record is 2:02:37, set in 2019 by four-time winner and arguably the greatest marathon runner of all time, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya.

Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe broke the world record twice – 2:15:25 for a mixed marathon in 2003 – which remains a course record to this day – and 2:17:42 for a women’s only marathon in 2005.

Kenya’s Mary Keitany was also a world record breaker in 2017 with a time of 2:17:01.

But what’s the slowest ever London marathon time?

Well, that record belongs to firefighter Lloyd Scott, who in 2002 wore a 130lb antique deep-sea diving suit during the event.

He set the record for the slowest ever London Marathon time that day, completing the race in five days, eight hours, 29 minutes and 46 seconds – a record he went on to break at the New York Marathon.

19 Apr 2002: Charity runner Lloyd Scott on his way past Embankment during The 2002 Flora London Marathon. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Ian Walton/Getty Images

That’s nothing compared to the slowest marathon time ever

Scott may hold the record for the slowest ever London Marathon time, but the slowest marathon time ever belongs to Shiso Kanakuri.

On 20 March 1967, the Japanese runner completed a marathon in Stockholm, Sweden, in a time of 54 years, 246 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds.

He started the race in 1912.

It’s a fascinating story, and Kanakuri was certainly no amateur.

He was favourite to win the marathon at the Stockholm Olympics but, due to immense heat on the day of the race, collapsed 27 kilometres into the race.

However, Kanakuri never reported his failure to finish to race officials and was listed as missing.

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He returned home to Japan and continued his training, running in two other Olympics in Belgium and France.

In Sweden, though, he was known as the missing marathoner.

After 50 years, the Swedish authorities discovered he was alive and well.

They invited him back to finish the race in 1967.

At 75 years of age – and more than 54 years after he started it – Shiso crossed the finish line.

Afterwards, he said: “It was a long trip. Along the way, I got married, had six children and ten grandchildren.”

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.