What Was Oprah's Marathon Time?

Oprah Conquered a Marathon in 1994 and People Still Talk About It

Oprah Winfrey
Photo by Albert Ortega/Getty Images

Talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. in 1994 and her finishing time was, and still is, one of the most talked-about marathon times. Many marathoners-in-training want to know what time they need to run to beat Oprah.

So exactly how fast did Winfrey run her marathon? Her official time was 4:29:15, which translates to a 10:16/mile pace (or 6:23/km).

That's nowhere close to any kind of record since top-performing marathon winners aim for a two-hour time or close to it. But given her struggles with her weight and her body image, for Winfrey, the marathon wasn't just about the time or the numbers. She wanted to prove to herself that she could do it before she turned 40.

Why Did Oprah Want to Run a Marathon? 

Oprah Winfrey fought a very public battle with her body image, going through several diet regimens and enduring humiliating comments and jokes about her weight. She set the marathon as a goal and lost 72 pounds during her training period. 

Since she lived in and filmed her titular show in Chicago, Winfrey had originally planned to run the Chicago Marathon but changed her mind and ran the Marine Corps Marathon instead, which was held a week earlier. 

Winfrey was joined along the marathon route by dozens of paparazzi photographers (some no doubt hoping to get unflattering race photos of her), many of whom ran the entire race alongside her.


Once she finished the race, Winfrey said it was the best feeling she'd ever had. "It’s better than an Emmy, I tell you," she said.

Why Do People Want to Beat Oprah's Marathon Time?

For those who had never run a marathon before, Winfrey became something of an inspiration. She wasn't an elite athlete or even in terribly good physical condition when she ran.

Her time is in the middle of average marathon times for men and women. 

But much like she did for book clubs, Winfrey opened up marathon running to a whole group of people who never considered doing it before. While some running purists sneered at what they viewed as Winfrey's mainstreaming of marathons, she inspired many people, especially women, to lace up their running shoes and try. 

How to Beat Oprah's Marathon Time

If you're training for a marathon and wondering what your estimated time may be (and if it will be faster than Oprah's), here's how you can predict your marathon time.

If you're still training and you're hoping to improve your time, here are some tips for how to run a faster marathon.

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