Eliud Kipchoge wrote the latest chapter in his awe-inspiring career on the streets of Berlin, as the marathon marvel sliced exactly half a minute from his four-year-old world record with an electrifying mark of 2:01:09 on Sunday April 25th in Berlin.
The 37-year-old NN Running Team-icon added to his jaw-dropping list of achievements across his 21-year international career by not only pushing his world record mark to another realm, but also claiming a record-equaling fourth victory in the BMW Berlin Marathon and his 15th victory in his 17th career marathon.
The German capital has provided so many great past moments in the career of Eliud Kipchoge and once again the course – commonly regarded as the world’s fastest - lived up to its reputation.
In ideal cool conditions and a temperature of 11 degrees Celsius, after a night of showers with no wind, Eliud set out with huge intent from the outset. The Kenyan athlete had three pacers among which NN Running Team athletes Noah Kipkemboi and Moses Koech.
Passing 5km in a blistering 14:14 and then hitting the 10km checkpoint in 28:23 – only three seconds slower than the time reached as part of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge when Eliud ran a sub-two-hour marathon in a non-sanctioned race for record purposes - it was clear he meant business.
Indeed, such was the ferocious nature of the pace, a little after 10km defending champion Guye Adola of Ethiopia started to become detached from the lead group – containing only Eliud and Adola’s countryman Andamlak Belihu and, of course, the trio of pacemakers kitted out in distinctive black and white striped vests.
The relentless pace – typically between 2:47 and 2:50 per kilometer continued – and Eliud hit 15km in 42:33 – more than one minute upon the time at the equivalent point when setting the world record in 2018.
Beautifully paced by the pacemakers, the halfway split was a scarcely believable 59:51 – leading many to speculate whether the first official sub-two-hour marathon could be witnessed in Berlin.
However, the Kenyan great did start – understandably – to slow in the second half of the race. At 25km – the point the final pacemaker dropped out – he recorded a split of 1:11:08 – and shortly after he started to ease clear of Belihu to run the remainder of the race in splendid isolation.
As Eliud started to tire, his pacing per kilometer became a little more inconsistent and by 30km (1:25:40) it become clear a sub-two-hour marathon was out of reach and the main goal would be to lower his four-year-old world record.
The 35km split was hit in 1:40:10 and shortly after Eliud let out a smile. As he started to open up minutes on the rest of the field, the next significant checkpoint at 40km (1:54:53) made it very clear the world record would be lowered, it was simply a case of how much.
Taking the acclaim of the massed supporters flanked either side of the Unter den Linden, he passed through the Brandenburger Tor and as he approached the finish he let out a large, wide smile.
He burst through the tape in 2:01:09 to run 30 seconds quicker than ever before (in an official marathon) to once again leave the world spellbound by his unparalleled endurance abilities.
As a measure of his dominance, the next athlete home Mark Korir (2:05:58) was almost a full five minutes adrift.
Eliud said: “I am overjoyed to have broken the world record in Berlin. I wanted to run the first half so fast. There were no limitations. After 38km I knew I would be capable of breaking the world record. The circumstances were great, and so was the organization of the event. I’m really happy with today and I am impressed by the fans and their support.”