Eliud Kipchoge takes 30 seconds off his men’s marathon world record in Berlin

  • Kenyan smashes his own record with run of 2:01.09
  • ‘I knew I would be capable of breaking the world record’

Eliud Kipchoge skirted a fine line between recklessness and genius as he smashed his own marathon world record by 30 seconds with yet another extraordinary display in Berlin.

The double Olympic champion looked as serene as it is possible to be after 26.2 miles of hard toil, crossing the line in 2hr 1min 9sec to surpass his best set four years ago. For good measure, the 37-year-old Kenyan also beat the second-placed Mark Korir by nearly five minutes.

Yet at one stage Kipchoge, who wore a bib that said “Impossible is Nothing”, appeared set to go even faster as he blasted through the first 10km of the race in just 28min 23sec – a time that would have placed him 18th out of 25 athletes in the men’s Olympic 10,000m final in Tokyo – before powering through halfway in 59.51. No one has gone through 13.1 miles that speedily in a marathon, and the fear among some onlookers was that by trying to run an official sub-two marathon Kipchoge risked blowing up. Yet while he slowed slightly once his pacemakers dropped out, it was only in the latter stages of the race that the searing early pace told.

With four miles remaining he was still more than a minute ahead of his previous world record, but that was reduced to 30sec as he passed the Brandenburg Gate and crossed the line. Even so, it was still an astonishing performance from an astonishing athlete.

Afterwards, an elated Kipchoge said: “No limitations, after 38k I knew I would be capable of breaking the world record. Circumstances were great, and so was the organisation of the event.”

Asked whether he would attempt a sub-two hour run in Berlin next year, Kipchoge replied: “Let us plan for another day. I will celebrate this record and have to realise what happens. Just roll and see what happens.”

Not only has Kipchoge now won 15 of the 17 official marathons he has run, he is also one of three men to defend an Olympic marathon title, alongside the bare-footed Ethiopian Abebe Bikila in 1960 and 1964 and the East German Waldemar Cierpinski in 1976 and 1980.

Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa crosses the line first in Berlin.
Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa crosses the line first in Berlin. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Before that he was also a 5,000m world champion in 2003, and won Olympic bronze and silver over 5,000m in 2004 and 2008 respectively. In any discussion about who is the greatest distance athlete of all time, Kipchoge must be in the conversation. Many would argue that he should lead it.

Kipchoge has also, of course, a sub‑two‑hour marathon in Vienna in 2019 on his résumé. However, that time of 1:59.40 did not count as an official record as he was helped by a phalanx of pacers who subbed in and out as well as other modifications not allowed under World Athletics rules.

Meanwhile the women’s race was won by Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa in 2:15:37, the third fastest time in history behind only Brigid Kosgei and Paula Radcliffe.

What made the 28-year-old’s performance more impressive was that she had run only one marathon before, in 2:34, although she has run a half marathon in a respectable 67:28.

Assefa, who ran the 800m at the Rio Olympics in 2016, also became the first woman in history to break two minutes for 800m and 2:20 for the marathon.


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Eliud Kipchoge smashes world marathon record by 78 seconds in Berlin
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge lowered the world marathon record in Berlin on Sunday, shaving more than a minute off the previous best

Sean Ingle

16, Sep, 2018 @9:44 AM

Article image
Eliud Kipchoge remains marathon’s big boss despite missing world record | Sean Ingle
Kipchoge showed in Berlin why he can be considered the greatest marathon runner in history despite failing to overhaul his compatriot Dennis Kimetto’s mark of 2hr 2min 57sec in challenging conditions

Sean Ingle

24, Sep, 2017 @2:49 PM

Article image
Eliud Kipchoge applies science to his pursuit of two-hour marathon milestone | Sean Ingle
Kipchoge is foregoing the London Marathon to focus on an audacious Nike-backed unofficial world record attempt, with the two-hour barrier the target

Sean Ingle

22, Apr, 2017 @9:00 AM

Article image
Eliud Kipchoge can break world marathon record again, predicts coach
Eliud Kipchoge can break his own world record again after winning the London Marathon, his coach Patrick Sang has predicted

Sean Ingle

29, Apr, 2019 @11:42 AM

Article image
Olympic champion Sifan Hassan joins ‘greatest ever’ London Marathon lineup
The women’s field will include three other world record-holders while the men’s race is set to feature four of the five fastest men in history

Sean Ingle

02, Feb, 2023 @8:00 AM

Article image
London Marathon 2015: Eliud Kipchoge takes men’s race by surprise
Eliud Kipchoge provided a thrilling upset in the men’s race at the London Marathon when he proved stronger than his Kenya team-mates and pre-race favourites, Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto

Sean Ingle

26, Apr, 2015 @6:48 PM

Article image
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge blitzes field for second straight Olympic marathon gold
Eliud Kipchoge cemented his place as the greatest distance runner of all time in brutal conditions in Sapporo

Sean Ingle in Tokyo

08, Aug, 2021 @1:22 AM

Article image
Eliud Kipchoge plans 'superhuman' 1:59 marathon in London in October
The controversial petrochemical company Ineos is to back an October attempt to break the two-hour marathon mark with the Kenyan runner Kipchoge

Sean Ingle

05, May, 2019 @11:01 PM

Article image
Eliud Kipchoge falls short by 26 seconds but more 'moonshots' ruled out
Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to become the first athlete to complete a marathon in under two hours ended in glorious failure in Monza

Sean Ingle

06, May, 2017 @7:04 AM

Article image
Eliud Kipchoge misses sub two-hour marathon target in Monza – as it happened
Will Eliud Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese and Lelisa Desisa’s attempt to run a marathon in under two hours be successful? Join James Caroll to find out

James Caroll

06, May, 2017 @6:13 AM