Where are you running your next half marathon?

Hugo Cappelaere 28. February 2022

Foto: StraLugano

March is here! The month that heralds the start of the running season. Following a winter of rest for some and short-distance runs for others, the favourite time for runners is back. Let’s enjoy a sporting year, hopefully far away from the pandemic!

Half distance, full of fun

If there is one distance that appeals to all types of runners, it's the half marathon. Many short-distance runners have exactly the same goal as those preparing for a marathon. The 21.0975 km distance seems the perfect middle ground to unite all types of runners. The distance is easily attainable for newcomers and an excellent distance for competitors wanting to set a target time.

This prompted us to dive into the results databases of 7 Swiss half-marathons* and evaluate almost 12,000 results to answer three questions:

  1. Which half marathon had the fastest average time?
  2. Where was the level of performance the highest?
  3. Which category ran the fastest?

And here are the answers.

1. The best average time

The fastest average time was run at the Ascona-Locarno Run. 1:43:53 for men and 1:52:51 for women.

It appears that the more participants taking part in an event, the higher the average times. For example, at the Winterthur Marathon or the Half Marathon at the Lausanne Marathon, the runners took on average of 10 minutes longer to complete the distance.

2. The highest level of performance

Here we evaluated the times of the 50 best women and 50 best men. It quickly became apparent that the level of performance is generally highest at major events. And interestingly enough, in races with more than 1,400 participants, there was little difference among the men. The average time was 1:16:14.

The situation was similar for women, with an average of 1:31:52 at the three largest events.

3. The fastest category

Which age group runs the fastest? The youngsters or perhaps the elderly participants?

Ultimately, it's the youths who came out on top. The under 30-year-olds is the fastest category with an average time of 1:42:52 for men and 1:54:48 for women. Way ahead of all others.

The 30 to 40-year-olds and the 40 to 50-year-olds are very close together. The former won the race with a time of 1:45:32 for men and 1:59:00 for women. The 40 to 50-year-olds were only one minute behind in both sexes.

An interesting difference could be seen between the sexes of the elderly participants: while the average times of men aged 60 and over were significantly slower, those of women increased constantly by around 3% from age group to age group.

The good news: Performance doesn’t seem to decline so quickly with age. 


All in all, performance is possible anywhere and at any age. But it seems fitting to choose your race according to your personal goals, as this can have a strong impact on the result.

* 2019 or 2018 results taken from: Ascona-Locarno Run, Frauenfelder, StraLugano, Hallwilerseauf, Dreiländerlauf, Half Marathon Lausanne Marathon, Winterthur Marathon.