BERLIN — Two-time Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge has bettered his own world record in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday.
The Kenyan runner clocked 2 hours, 1 minute, 9 seconds to shave 30 seconds off his previous best mark of 2:01:39 set on the same course in 2018.
Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa unexpectedly won the women’s race in a course record of 2:15:37 – 18 minutes faster than she had ever run before. It was the third fastest time ever.
Conditions in the German capital were ideal for fast racing – cool, around 11 degrees Celsius after a night of showers, with no more precipitation and no wind. Some 45,527 runners from 157 nations were registered to take part in the first Berlin Marathon without restrictions since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Participant numbers were reduced by nearly half last year, when anyone taking part had to show proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or have a negative PCR test result. The 2020 race was called off due to the pandemic.
Kipchoge set off at a furious pace on Sunday, covering the first 10 kilometers in just 28:23 and clocking 42:32 at the 15k-mark, hinting at a sub two-hour attempt.
Defending champion Guye Adola and Ethiopian compatriot Andamlak Belihu managed to keep pace, but Adola dropped back a few meters as Kipchoge was clocking kilometer-splits of between 2:47 and 2:50.
Kipchoge and Belihu completed the half marathon in just 59:51. Adola and Kenyan runners Abel Kipchumba, Mark Korir and Bethwel Yegon followed in 01:01:25.
The last pacemaker dropped off at the 25k-mark, leaving Kipchoge on his own, but Belihu remained on his heels.
Kipchoge slowed somewhat in reaching the 30k-mark in 1:25:40. Belihu was unable to keep up and followed 21 seconds behind before dropping further back.
By this stage it was just a question of whether Kipchoge would break his own record. He did.