Marathon Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge stormed to his next world record in Berlin. The 37-year-old Kenyan ran the 42.195 kilometers on Sunday in 2:01:09 hours. Kipchoge set the previous record in 2018 at the same place in 2:01:39 hours. At first it even looked as if he could be the first in an official race to undercut the two-hour mark.
Three years ago, the two-time Olympic champion in Vienna was the first person to stay under two hours over the classic distance. However, since this run was not open to the public and took place under laboratory conditions, the time of 1:59:40 hours is not considered a world record.
Favorable conditions for Kipchoge
“I’m so happy about my preparation, the team around me, and the new material worked, too,” said Kipchoge after his record run on ARD. When asked if he wanted to return to Berlin to attack the two-hour border, he asked to discuss that another day. “First I have to realize what happened, then we’ll see,” said Kipchoge.
After some rain during the night, the external conditions at the start at 9.15 am were very favorable for a fast race with cloudy skies, mild temperatures and hardly any wind. Led by his pacemakers, Kipchoge set a world record from the start and was 40 seconds below the previous record after a third of the distance. Only the Ethiopian outsider Andamlak Belihu was able to follow, last year’s winner Guye Adola – also from Ethiopia – not.
The leading duo passed the half-marathon mark behind the pacemakers after an almost unbelievable 59:51 minutes. “My plan was to run fast the first half,” explained Kipchoge. The last helper got out a little later, after a good 25 kilometers Kipchoge broke away from Belihu and from then on only ran against the clock as a soloist. He couldn’t quite keep up the pace of the first half in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators along the route, but he still beat the previous world record by half a minute.
For Kipchoge it was the fourth success at the Berlin marathon, so he is now the record winner of the largest German city run together with the Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie. Gebrselassie won there from 2006 to 2009 and also ran two world records.
Haftom Welday with personal best time
Kenyan Mark Korir finished second in 2:05:58 ahead of Ethiopian Tadu Abate in 2:06:28. The best German was Haftom Welday in eleventh place. The Hamburg citizen, who was naturalized just a week ago and fled the Ethiopian crisis region of Tigray in 2014, ran a personal best of 2:09:06 hours (previously 2:13:47). “I’m very satisfied. I had set myself a time under two hours and ten minutes. In the end I was able to do better,” Welday commented on his performance, with which he already met the norm for the World Cup in Budapest 2023.
National coach Tono Kirschbaum was impressed: “That was an extraordinary, great performance by Haftom Welday. Going into the race so boldly, improving his personal best and finishing 11th in this world-class field speaks for the quality of this runner.”
Tigist Assefa wins in women
The Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the third-best time ever for a woman. The 28-year-old increased the course record to 2:15:37 hours. Only the Kenyan Brigid Kosgei, who set the world record to 2:14:04 hours in Chicago almost three years ago, and the British Paula Radcliffe were faster. She had set the previous record in London in 2003 in 2:15:25 hours.
A total of around 45,000 runners had registered for the race through downtown Berlin.