Once again, the Berlin Marathon was the setting for a historic marathon as Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge made history by lowering the world record to an astonishing 2:01:39.
He had trained for it and made it happen, almost by himself. He set out on a hot pace and already had a nine-second lead over the rest of the field by the 5 km mark! He stretched his lead to 11 seconds at 10 km and 55 seconds by 20 km and 1:01 by the halfway mark, which he crossed in 1:01.06.
Now he was running almost solo, as two of his three pacesetters had dropped out after 15 km. Countryman Josphat Boit continued through 25 km and then Kipchoge was on his own. His lead continued to grow and by the time he passed 40 km in 1:55:32, there was little doubt that his name was going into the record books.
He finished the second half of the race in just 1:00:33 and the marathon in 2:01:39, lowering Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 world mark by an amazing 1:18.
“I lack the words to describe how I feel,” said Kipchoge afterwards. “It was really hard [during the last 17 km] 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. 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 organization. I’ll definitely return to Berlin. Berlin for me is eternal.”
It is certainly the home of the men’s marathon world record. Kipchoge’s mark is the seventh straight world mark set on this flat, fast course, starting with Kenyan Paul Tergat’s 2:04:55 in 2003.
For Kipchoge, who must now be considered the finest marathoner ever, he won in Berlin for the third time (also in 2015 and 2017) and now has 10 wins in 11 marathon starts. He’s undefeated over his last nine marathons from 2014-18, not counting his 2:00:25 time trial last year. One race he hasn’t won: the IAAF World Championships, coming to Doha (QAT) in 2019. Will he try it?
The women’s race produced no records, but a brilliant race that was led for the first half by Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, crossing the midway in 1:09:03. By 25 km, it was Kenyan Gladys Cherono who had the lead, running with Ruti Aga (ETH) through 30 km, but then broke it open.
Cherono had a 49-second lead by 40 km and charged home in 2:18:11, moving her to no. 4 all-time. Aga rallied in the final stages to close to 2:18:34 (no. 6 all-time) with Dibaba third in 2:18:55, her third-fastest ever. For Cherono, 35, it was also her third Berlin Marathon victory, also in 2015 and 2017.
World Marathon Majors/Berlin Marathon
Berlin (GER) ~ 16 September 2018
(Full results here)
Men: 1 Eliud Kipchoge, (KEN) 2:01:39 (World Record; old, 2:02:57, Dennis Kimetto (KEN), 2014); 2. Amos Kipruto, (KEN) 2:06:23; 3. Wilson Kipsang, (KEN) 2:06:48; 4. Shogo Nakamura, (JPN); 2:08:16; 5. Zersenay Tadese, (ERI) 2:08:46; 6. Yuki Sato, (JPN) 2:09:18; 7. Okubay Tsegay, (ERI) 2:09:56; 8. Daisuke Uekado, (JPN) 2:11:07; 9. Wily Canchanya, (PER) 2:12:57; 10. Bart van Nunen, (NED) 2:13:09.
Women: 1. Gladys Cherono, (KEN) 2:18:11; 2. Ruti Aga, (ETH) 2:18:34; 3. Tirunesh Dibaba, (ETH) 2:18:55; 4. Edna Kiplagat (KEN), 2:21:18; 5. Mizuki Matsuda, (JPN) 2:22:23; 6. Helen Tola, (ETH) 2:22:48; 7. Honami Maeda (JPN), 2:25:23; 8. Carla Salome Rocha (POR), 2:25:27; 9. Miyuki Uehara (JPN), 2:25:46; 10. Rei Ohara (JPN), 2:27:29.