BMW BERLIN MARATHON
Eliud Kipchoge races into the history books as Gladys Cherono sets course record and Manuela Schar a world best
WE KNEW Eliud Kipchoge was good as the Olympic champion and three-time London
Marathon winner came within 25 seconds of the two-hour barrier for 26.2 miles in the Nikeorganised Breaking2 time trial in Monza last year. Such performances have earned him a reputation as the world’s greatest ever marathoner.
Yet his performance on Sunday exceeded all expectations as he ripped apart Dennis Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57 to set an official new mark of 2:01:39.
Racing on a preternaturally fast BMW Berlin Marathon course that has witnessed eight men’s and two women’s world records in the last 20 years and in near-ideal weather conditions under blue late-summer skies, Kipchoge banged out sub-2:55 kilometres like a metronome – without any pacing help for much of the second half of the race – before charging to the finish by the Brandenburg Gate.
“It was really hard,” he said, moments after making history, “but I was truly prepared to come to Berlin. I trust my preparation and I knew what hard work I did in Kenya and that’s what helped me in the last few kilometres. I was prepared to run my own race early so I wasn’t surprised to be alone.”
The early stages had seen him flanked by pacemakers Sammy Kitwara, Bernard Kipkemoi and Josphat Boit as he passed 5km in 14:24 and 10km in 29:21, but Kitwara and Kipkemoi peeled off soon after 15km, which was reached in 43:38.
With only the pacer Boit now for company, Kipchoge went through halfway in 61:06 before Boit dropped out at 25km, leaving Kipchoge alone for a final, long, lonely run to the finish. Kipchoge seemed unfazed, though, as he went through 35km alone in 1:41:00 (sub-2:02 pace).
Behind, Wilson Kipsang, who handed Kipchoge the only defeat of his marathon career on this course when setting a world record of 2:03:23 in 2013, was content to run a few seconds behind the leader in the early stages, but gradually fell further and further behind as the pace took its toll.
Despite the fierce pace, Kipchoge looked relaxed and as if he was out for a normal Sunday morning run. Amusingly he was also given drinks at aid stations by a helper on a bicycle who enthusiastically fist-pumped the air whenever he successfully passed a bottle to the leader.
Passing 40km in 1:55:32, the world record looked certain and Kipchoge powered home to stop the clock in 2:01:40, a time that was soon rounded to 2:01:39 after a sizzling secondhalf split of 60:33.
Historically, it is the biggest advance in the men’s marathon world record for over 50 years since the Australian Derek Clayton ran 2:09:36 in Fukuoka in 1967, slicing two-and-a-half minutes from Morio Shigematsu’s record.
Despite his historic run, Kipchoge did not collapse in exhaustion either. Instead, he sprinted into the arms of his coach Patrick Sang and in jubilant fashion greeted the spectators at the finish, smiling and celebrating as his achievement sank in. He knew this was a Beamonesque performance – the greatest run of his brilliant career and coincidentally in the same city where Usain Bolt set his world 100m and 200m records in 2009.
“I’m really grateful and happy to smash the world record,” said Kipchoge, who first made a name for himself in 2003 when beating Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele to the world 5000m title aged 18 and, more recently, has won 11 of his 12 marathons.
“They say you can miss (the record) two times but you can’t miss a third time! So I thank my coach and everyone who helped me do this,” he added.
“I’ll definitely return to Berlin. Berlin for me is eternal,” he promised.
The world’s first official sub-2:02 marathon comes 30 years after the world’s first sub-2:07 was set with 2:06:50 by Belayneh Dinsamo in
Rotterdam. Paul Tergat then ran the world’s first sub-2:05 with 2:04:55 in Berlin in 2003.
Ten years ago this month, Haile Gebrselassie ran the world’s first sub2:04 with 2:03:59 before
Patrick Makau reduced the record to 2:03:38, Wilson Kipsang to 2:03:23 and then Kimetto clocked 2:02:57
– with amazingly all these performances being set in
This means the world record has fallen by 5min 11sec in the past 30 years, with now a tantalising 100 seconds needed to go sub-two.
Behind, Amos Kipruto of Kenya finished well on his 26th birthday to come second in 2:06:23, ahead of Kipsang in third with 2:06:48. Shogo Nakamura of Japan was fourth in a fine 2:08:16, while Zersenay Tadese, the world half-marathon record-holder and part of the Breaking2 project with Kipchoge, ran a PB of 2:08:46 in fifth.
Paul Martelletti – a New Zealand runner who is based in the UK and races for Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets – clocked 2:17:29. Gary O’Hanlon of Ireland ran 2:19:06, Jonathan Poole of Serpentine 2:21:14 and Jonathan Thewlis of Notts 2:23:09. But Scott Overall, the Brit who ran a 2:10:55 breakthrough time in 2011 in Berlin, dropped out at around 35km after slowing to outside 2:30 pace.
“Berlin was too soon for me and my coach told me this,” he said. “I didn’t listen but work and family meant I couldn’t do a later one plus my heart is in Berlin. DNF for me, but I continue.”
There were also notable runs from British masters. M40s Ady Whitwam and Chris Greenwood were inside 2:30 while there were category wins for M55 Nigel Rackham (2:38:58), W55 Susanna Harrison (3:12:33) and W65 Caroline Horder (3:39:07).
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Performance of the year: Eliud Kipchoge charges through the finish