What’s a Good 5k Time?

by Michael on May 28, 2010 · 0 comments

With my first 5k race just around the corner, I wanted to spend a bit of time talking about what constitutes a “good” 5k time. I now have several test runs under my belt, and have been finishing in roughly 34 minutes. Curious about how that time stacks up against other runners, I did some digging.


For starters, the world record for a 5000m race on an outdoor track is 12:37.35 (men) or 14:11.15 (women). On a road course, the world record is 13:00 (men) or 14:46 (women). Holy crap, those are some fast runners! Of course, only a select few super-elite runners are concerned with world records.

What about “typical” times for “average” runners? To answer this question, I hopped on over to CoolRunning.com and downloaded the results from last year’s running of my upcoming race. In all, there were about 320 runners. Here’s how the results broke down:

  • The overall winner finished in roughly 16:35
  • The slowest competitor finished in 55:35
  • The median time for all runners (both sexes, all age groups) was 30:28
  • For men (all ages), the median was 26:41
  • For women (all ages), the median was 33:12
  • For men around my age (35-40), the median was 27:23

Keeping in mind that this isn’t an overly-competitive race, I now at least have a rough idea of what to expect. I fully expect to finish well behind the median, but that’s fine with me.

In reality, the “best” time is your time, especially if you’re just starting out. Whatever I run on Monday will (by definition) be a personal best, and I will then have a benchmark to compare and compete against.


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