First under 5:00: 4:59.6 Diane Leather GBR 1954
First official world record: 4:37.0 Anne Smith GBR 1967
First under 4:30: 4:29.5 Paola Pigni ITA 1973
First under 4:20: 4:18.08 Mary Slaney USA 1982

Subsequent record progression:
4:17.44 Maricica Puica ROM 1982
4:16.71 Mary Slaney 1985
4:15.61 Paula Ivan ROM 1989
4:12.56 Svetlana Masterkova RUS 1996

Most durable world best: 5:15.3 Evelyne Foster GBR 1939 (12 years)


Three all time greats

Mary Slaney
Mary Slaney (USA)
: Set three world records, including the first sub-4:20 clocking in 1982. She scored a memorable double at 1500m and 3000m in the inaugural IAAF World Championships of 1983.
Paula Ivan Paula Ivan (ROM): World record holder from 1989 to 1996 with 4:15.61, she won the 1500m and was second at 3000m in the 1988 Olympic Games. After several years in retirement she returned to international competition in 2000 aged 37.
Svetlana MasterkovaSvetlana Masterkova (RUS): The year after giving birth to a daughter, she produced a momentous 1996 season which included a world mile record of 4:12.56 (in her debut at the event) shortly after an Olympic 800m/1500m double in Atlanta.

Men Landmarks
Women Landmarks
Is it for me?

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What is Race Walking?