Only Spanish World Champions in marathon. World Championships of Athens 1997: Martín Fiz (left) y Abel Antón (right)

Spanish marathoners have managed to stand out in big competitions on several occasions. However, a question always arises: Who was the best Spanish marathoner in history?

Answering this question may not be easy. Which criteria to follow? Is it better to focus on victories in international events, such as Majors marathons or World and Olympic Championships, or is it better to stick with times?

At times level, Spanish marathoners have run below the 2 hours and 10 minutes time a total of 54 times. All these sub 2.10 times have been obtained by a small group of only 18 marathoners.

The Spanish record is 2.06.52, achieved by Julio Rey (Toledo 1972) in the marathon of Hamburg in 2006. Julio Rey’s name appears a total of 7 times on the list of the best Spanish times. He has also 4 of the 10 best marathon times ever, all achieved in Hamburg (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006), and all below 2 hours and 8 minutes. In addition to these, he was a world marathon runner-up in Saint Dennis (France) in 2003, the last time that a Spanish athlete had an internationally outstanding result. It should be noted that he run in less than 2h08m (2.07.37) in the 1999 Rotterdam marathon, but was disqualified for doping for a period of two years.

With the second-best Spanish time appears Fabián Roncero (Madrid 1970). He broke the national record twice, both in the Rotterdam marathon, in 1998 (2.07.26) and 1999 (2.07.23). His 2.07.23 of Rotterdam 1999 was the national record until Julio Rey’s victory in Hamburg 2006. However, after his PB he only managed to finish one more marathon, in Rotterdam 2001, where he was seventh with 2.10.08.

Following the ranking Javier Guerra (Segovia 1983) obtained recently the third best Spanish time. In February of this 2020, and just before starting with the confinements and cancellations, he achieved 2.07.27 with Nike’s “magic” shoes in the Seville marathon and his pass to the Tokyo Olympics (now in 2021). However, despite this great result, he only managed to finish tenth in Seville, while 2 other Spanish athletes also finished below 2h10m. In an international context revolutionized by the carbon fiber shoes it is necessary to be cautious about the possibilities of Spanish success. Including Seville 2020, he has run below 2h10m on 3 occasions.

Highlighted in this list we also have Toni Peña (Mallorca 1970), who run 6 times under 2h10m. His PB was 2.07.34 in the 2001 Otsu (Japan) marathon. He also got a second place in the 2000 Berlin marathon (2.07.47).

Hamid Ben Daoud (born in Morocco in 1996 and nationalized Spanish since the end of 2018) appears in the ranking with the same time than Toni Peña. He achieved the Olympic qualification with 2.07.34 in the 2020 Seville marathon. Previously he had already run faster than 2h10m in the 2019 Prague marathon, where his 2.08.14 was the best Spanish marathon time in the last 13 years. Due to his age and progression, we can be ahead of the future national marathon record holder.

The ranking would now continue with José Ríos (Barcelona 1974), with a PB of 2.07.42 achieved in the Otsu marathon (Japan) in 2004. In total he run a total of 4 times faster than 2h10m, all of them in the Otsu marathon (2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008), where he won in 2004 and 2006.

With a time of 2.07.48 (Hamburg 2001) we find Francisco Javier Cortés (Barcelona 1971). He managed to get below 2h10m on 4 occasions, although he only got 1 victory, in the 2000 Amsterdam marathon (2.08.57).

The next athlete to appear in our review is Alejandro Gómez (Pontevedra 1967). His PB of 2.07.54 in the 1997 Rotterdam marathon was a national record until Fabián Roncero snatched it from him a year later (2.07.23, Rotterdam 1998). It was his only race below 2h10m, although he never got a taste of victory.

With 2.07.57, which helped him win the London marathon in 1998, appears Abel Antón (Soria 1962). He run a total of 3 times faster the 2h10m, achieving also victory in the 1996 Berlin marathon (2.09.15). To his 2 victories in Majors marathons he added 2 World Marathon Championships, in Athens 1997, in a remembered Hispanic duel with another of the protagonists of our list (Martín Fiz) and Seville 1999.

Next on our list we find Alberto Juzdado (Madrid 1966). In his marathon career he run 5 times faster than 2h10m. With his PB of 2.08.01 he won the 1998 Tokyo marathon. Two years earlier he achieved the national record by doing 2.08.46 also in Tokyo. An ephemeral record that was taken from him a month later (Martín Fiz, 2.08.25). He was part of the Spanish squad, with Martín Fiz and Diego García, that achieved the remembered Spanish triplet at the 1994 Helsinki European Athletics Championships.

Nor can we leave out the prolific, and still active, Martín Fiz (Álava 1963). His PB was the 2.08.05 in the Otsu marathon (Japan) in 1997, which was a national record, and which he had previously beaten 3 other times in 1994, 1995 and 1996. In total he has run 6 times faster than 2h10m. World marathon champion in Gothenburg 1995 he was world runner-up behind Abel Antón in Athens 1997. So far they are the only two Spanish World champions in marathon. In addition, he was European champion in the Spanish triplet in Helsinki 1994. He can also boast a fourth place in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics marathon, the best position of a Spanish marathoner in Olympic Games. In Master category, he was the first athlete to win the six Majors marathons.

And we could not finish our review without mentioning the other Spanish athletes with marathons below 2h10m:

Chema Martínez (Madrid 1971): 2 times and 2.08.09 in Rotterdam 2003.

José Manuel García (Valencia 1982): 2 times and 2.08.40, in Tokyo 1998.

Antonio Serrano (Ciudad Real 1965): 2 times and 2.09.13 in Berlin 1994 (third place), which was a national record and the first Spanish sub 2h10m marathon ever.

Ayad Lamdassen (Morocco 1981): 2.09.28 in London 2013.

Diego García (Guipúzcoa 1961-2001): 2.09.51 in Fukuoka 1995.

Iván Fernández (Álava 1988): 2.09.56 in Seville 2020,

and Óscar Fernández (Valladolid 1974): 2.09.59 in Fukuoka 2003.

And here we finish our personal review of Spanish marathon times.

Who do you think is the best marathoner?



Lista española de todos los tiempos (Marcas y atletas), actualizado a 31.12.2019. Asociación Española de Estadísticos de Atletismo.

Julio Rey, with the Spanish national record in marathon (2.06.52), obtained in Hamburg 2006

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