Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin
How many more times will Eliud Kipchoge remind the world that he is the GOAT of the marathon?
Every time he puts on his Nike shoes and takes part in a race, it seems like he’s adding to his legacy of being the greatest of all time.
The seemingly infallible Kenyan runner broke his own marathon world record on Sunday morning at the Berlin Marathon, clocking an unfathomable 2:01:09 to win the race for the fourth time since 2015 and win his 11th World Marathon Majors race in 13 attempts. . Averaging 4:37 per mile, the 37-year-old slashed exactly half a minute off his previous mark of 2:01:39 set at the same race in 2018.
Conditions in the German capital were ideal for fast races – 52 degrees cold after a night of showers, with no further precipitation and no wind. Some 45,527 runners from 157 countries were registered to take part in the first unrestricted Berlin Marathon since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Kipchoge again showed his marathon dominance despite a minor challenge from Andamlak Belihu halfway through.
Instead of sticking to the planned schedule of running 60:50 for the first half (4:39 per mile), the lead group ran 14:14 for the first 5km and 28:23 for 10km. They crossed the halfway mark in an unprecedented time of 59:51, a blistering pace of 4:34 per mile. It was clear that Kipchoge was trying to breach the 2 hour barrier which has never been breached in World Athletics compliant competition.
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Besides three Kenyan pacemakers – Moses Koech, Noah Kipkemboi and Philemon Kiplimo – Kipchoge always had Belihu, an Ethiopian half-marathon specialist, hot on his heels. Belihu, who has a career best half marathon of 58:54 but a marathon best of just 2:09:43, looked quite comfortable at tha
But an upheaval was not in preparation. Kiplimo was the last pacemaker to stay with Kipchoge and he clocked 25km in 1:11:08 before immediately exiting the course. Kipchoge went forward and quickly dropped Belihu. In a familiar scene from marathons past, it was just Kipchoge against the clock. He managed to keep his pace under three minutes per kilometer, but with split times like 2:57 for the 27th kilometer and 2:59 for the 28th, the “sub-2:00” attempt was called off. He was starting to tire.
“We went too fast,” Kipchoge admitted after the race in his broadcast interview. “It actually takes energy from the muscles.”
Although his pace dropped – he slowed to 3:08 kilometers in the 38th and 3:11 in the 40th – he pulled himself together in the final 2.195 kilometers to lock in his new world athletics record. The men’s world record has now been set eight times in a row in Berlin, a race known for its flat course and pacemakers.
Kipchoge won Sunday’s race over Kenyan Mark Korir (2:05:58), by almost five minutes, and won the equivalent of around $106,000 in prize money and time bonuses. He was given a Kenyan flag and celebrated at the finish area to the delight of thousands of fans.
His second-half lap time was 1:01:19, meaning that although he slowed down a bit, he still averaged 4:41 per mile for the back half of the race. .
“My legs and my body still feel young,” Kipchoge said. “But the most important thing is my spirit, and that also makes me feel fresh and young. I thought, let me try for 2 hours flat. I’m so happy to break the world record.
The two-time Olympic champion became the first athlete to run a marathon distance in under 2 hours in Vienna in a time trial in 2019 when he clocked a stunning time of 1:59:40. But this mark was not recognized as an official world record because it was established with a team of rotary pacemakers and not in open competition. Earlier in his career, Kipchoge won a world championship title in the 5,000m on the track.
Since switching to the 26.2-mile distance in 2013, Kipchoge has won 15 of the 17 marathons he has entered. This includes victories at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics, as well as four victories each in Berlin and London. The only flaws in his record are a second place in Berlin in 2013 (2:04:05) and an eighth place in London in 2020 (2:06:49).
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Belihu had to settle for fourth place and a new personal best of 2:06:40. He was passed by another Ethiopian, Tadu Abate, who finished third in 2:06:28. Kenyan Abel Kipchumba took fifth place in 2:06:49. Overall, the top 12 men broke 2:10.
If Kipchoge hadn’t broken the world record, the women’s race would have been the big story. Ethiopian Tigist Assefa, an 800m runner in 1:59.24 who competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, slashed her previous personal best by nearly 20 minutes and ran a sensational time of 2:15:37.
This made her the third fastest woman in history behind only Kenyan Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) and Britain’s Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25). She erased the Berlin course record of 2:18:11 set by Kenya’s Gladys Cherono in 2018, the same year Kipchoge broke her previous world record.