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Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin with stunning 2:01:39

Eliud Kipchoge after winning the Berlin Marathon (Photo: Getty Images)

BERLIN, September 17, 2018 - In a stunning display of distance running, Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge broke the world record* at the BMW Berlin Marathon on Sunday (16), winning the IAAF Gold Label road race in 2:01:39.

Compatriot Gladys Cherono, meanwhile, secured her third Berlin Marathon crown, smashing the course record. Her winning time of 2:18:11 moves her to fourth on the world all-time list.

From the early stages of the men's race, 33-year-old Kipchoge had just a handful of pacemakers for company as they passed through five kilometres in 14:24 and 10 kilometres in 29:01.

Wilson Kipsang, winner of the 2013 Berlin Marathon in a then world record of 2:03:23, led the chase trio with fellow Kenyan Amos Kipruto and Ethiopia's Abera Kuma close behind. They passed five kilometres in 14:33 before Kipsang edged ahead a few kilometres later, passing 10 kilometres in 29:12.

But shortly after 15 kilometres, which was reached in 43:38, two of Kipchoge's three pacemakers were unable to continue and withdrew from the race. The final pacemaker, Josphat Boit, led Kipchoge through the half-way point in 1:01:06 before dropping out at 25 kilometres, covered in 1:12:24.

Kipsang and Kipruto reached the half way point in 1:02:07, more than a minute adrift of Kipchoge. Abera was starting to struggle and was a further 18 seconds behind the chasing duo at half way and eventually pulled out.

Running alone with 17 kilometres left, Kipchoge then sped up.

Although 30 kilometres is no longer an official world record event, Kipchoge's 1:26:45 split at that checkpoint is the fastest time ever recorded for the distance.

He then passed the 35-kilometre checkpoint just a shade outside 1:41:00, suggesting a finishing time inside 2:02 was possible. By 40 kilometres, reached in 1:55:32, a world record looked a certainty.

Further behind, Kipruto had shaken off the challenge of Kipsang and was clear in second place. He trailed Kipchoge by nearly two minutes at 30km and the gap had almost doubled to three minutes and 42 seconds by 40 kilometres.

Kipchoge maintained his form well in the closing stages and crossed the finish line in 2:01:39, taking one minute and 18 seconds off the previous world record set four years ago by Dennis Kimetto and having covered the second half of the race in 1:00:33.

It is the largest single improvement on the marathon world record since Derek Clayton improved the mark by two minutes and 23 seconds in 1967.

"I lack the words to describe how I feel," said Kipchoge, who won in Berlin in 2015 and 2017. "It was really hard [during the last 17 kilometres] but I was truly prepared to run my own race. I had to focus on the work I had put in in Kenya and that is what helped push me.

"It was my aim to smash the world record and I felt confident before the race," he added. "I’ve now run 2:04, 2:03 and now 2:01. Who knows what the future will bring?

"I’m really grateful to my coaching team, my management, the organisation. I’ll definitely return to Berlin. Berlin for me is eternal."

Kipruto finished a distant second in 2:06:23 while Kipsang held on for third place in 2:06:48.

Having held off the early fast pace, Japan's Shogo Nakamura was rewarded with a PB of 2:08:16 in fourth place. World half marathon record-holder Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea also took a couple of minutes off his lifetime best, clocking 2:08:46 for fifth place.


Eliud Kipchoge
Born: 5 November 1984. Coach: Patrick Sang.

Since bursting on to the scene as an 18-year-old at the 2003 IAAF World Championships in Paris, Kipchoge has charted his career path with precision, proving to be not only an indomitable spirit but also one of the most versatile distance runners of his generation.

But his successes on the roads may not have happened had it not been for a pivotal moment in his track career in 2012.

Kipchoge finished seventh in the Kenyan trial 10,000m race at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene that year, then finished in the same position three weeks later in the 5000m at the Kenyan Trials. Aged 27 at the time, and having earned bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008, Kipchoge had missed out on a third Olympic appearance.

It influenced his decision to move to the roads, though, and he immediately showed promise. He clocked 59:25 on his half marathon debut in Lille in September 2012 and went on to represent Kenya at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Kavarna later that year, placing sixth.

He moved up in distance again and won the Hamburg Marathon in April 2013 in 2:05:30, the sixth fastest marathon debut in history at that time.

Five months later he improved his marathon PB to 2:04:05 to finish second in Berlin in a race in which Wilson Kipsang broke the world record. It was to be Kipchoge’s last –and, to date, only – defeat in a marathon.

Now a fully-fledged marathon runner, Kipchoge has gone on to record victories in Rotterdam, Chicago, London (three times) and Berlin (also three times). In between his second victories in the British and German capitals, Kipchoge also won the Olympic title in Rio, more than making up for the disappointment of missing the 2012 Games.

Up until September 2018, the one accolade that had so far eluded Kipchoge was the world record. But a faultless 2:01:39 run in Berlin saw Kipchoge smash the mark by one minute and 18 seconds.

But it’s not just his run of victories that sets Kipchoge apart, it’s also his string of fast times. He has run 2:04:00 or faster on four occasions and 2:05:00 or faster on nine occasions – and that’s not including his 2:00:25 clocking in Monza in an experimental and unofficial race.

Now aged 33 and after racing internationally for 16 years, Kipchoge is showing no signs of slowing down for the 26.2-mile distance.

Kipchoge’s career achievements

2002 World Cross Country Championships – U20 race, 5th
2003 World Cross Country Championships – U20 race, 1st
2003 World Championships – 5000m, 1st
2004 World Cross Country Championships – senior race, 4th
2004 Olympic Games – 5000m, 3rd
2005 World Cross Country Championships – senior race, 5th
2005 World Championships – 5000m, 4th
2006 World Indoor Championships – 3000m, 3rd
2007 World Championships – 5000m, 2nd
2008 Olympic Games – 5000m, 2nd
2009 World Championships – 5000m, 5th
2011 World Championships – 5000m, 7th
2012 World Half Marathon Championships – 6th
2016 Olympic Games – marathon, 1st

Kipchoge’s marathon career

1st, 2:05:30 – Hamburg, April 2013
2nd, 2:04:05 – Berlin, September 2013
1st, 2:05:00 – Rotterdam, April 2014
1st, 2:04:11 – Chicago, October 2014
1st, 2:04:42 – London, April 2015
1st, 2:04:00 – Berlin, September 2015
1st, 2:03:05 – London, April 2016
1st, 2:08:44 – Rio (Olympic Games), August 2016
1st, 2:03:32 – Berlin, September 2017
1st, 2:04:17 – London, April 2018
1st, 2:01:39 – Berlin, September 2018

Marathon world record progression

2:12:00 Morio Shigematsu (JPN) Chiswick 1965
2:09:36.4 Derek Clayton (AUS) Fukuoka 1967
2:08:33.6 Derek Clayton (AUS) Antwerpen 1969
2:08:18 Rob de Castella (AUS) Fukuoka 1981
2:08:05 Steve Jones (GBR) Chicago 1984
2:07:12 Carlos Lopes (POR) Rotterdam 1985
2:06:50 Belayneh Densimo (ETH) Rotterdam 1988
2:06:05 Ronaldo da Costa (BRA) Berlin 1998
2:05:42 Khalid Khannouchi (MAR) Chicago 1999
2:05:38 Khalid Khannouchi (USA) London 2002
2:04:55 Paul Tergat (KEN) Berlin 2003
2:04:26 Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) Berlin 2007
2:03:59 Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) Berlin 2008
2:03:38 Patrick Makau (KEN) Berlin 2011
2:03:23 Wilson Kipsang (KEN) Berlin 2013
2:02:57 Dennis Kimetto (KEN) Berlin 2014
2:01:39 Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) Berlin 2018

Gladys Cherono wins the Berlin Marathon (Photo: Getty Images)


Gladys Cherono made it a Kenyan double in Berlin by winning the women's race in a course record of 2:18:11.

Multiple world and Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba fronted the lead pack of five women during the early stages. Followed by Cherono, Ruti Aga, Edna Kiplagat and Helen Tola, Dibaba led the quintet through five kilometres in 16:27 and 10 kilometres in 32:44, suggesting a finishing time of about 2:18.

By half way, reached in 1:09:03, Dibaba had opened up a gap of seven seconds on her four opponents. It didn't last long, though, as Dibaba started to struggle a few kilometres later, allowing Cherono to move into pole position.

The five women were strung out at 25 kilometres with Cherono at the front, hitting that checkpoint in 1:21:51. Aga then followed, a couple of strides ahead of Dibaba. Kiplagat was a few seconds behind with Tola further back.

Aga ran with Cherono for a few more kilometres before the 35-year-old Kenyan pulled away again, this time for good.

Cherono, the winner in Berlin in 2015 and 2017, successfully defended her title in 2:18:11, taking more than a minute off the course record set 13 years ago by Japan's Mizuki Noguchi.

"When I attacked and overtook Tirunesh, I felt confident I would win," said Cherono, the 2014 world half-marathon champion.

Aga followed 23 seconds later to take second place in 2:18:34 while Dibaba held on for third place in 2:18:55. It was the first marathon in history in which three women finished inside 2:19.

Kiplagat, the two-time world champion, finished fourth in 2:21:18, the 38-year-old's fastest time since 2014.

Contesting just her second marathon, Japan's Mizuki Matsuda ran an impressively even-paced race and was rewarded with a PB of 2:22:23 in fifth, having overtaken Tola in the closing stages.

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