It’s the fifth consecutive time the men’s world best was run in Berlin.
Wilson Kipsang, so vocal about his aspirations of setting a new world marathon record in Berlin on Sunday, made good on his quest with a 2:03:23, taking 15 seconds off the previous record set by Patrick Makau in Berlin two years ago.
Berlin’s reputation as a fast 26.2-mile course is not just a boast. The last five men’s world marathon records — by Paul Tergat, twice by Haile Gebrselassie, by Makau, and now by Kipsang of Kenya — have been set in Berlin.
Kipsang, the 2012 London Marathon champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, came into the race as No. 2 on the official marathon time list with his 2:03:42 from Frankfurt in 2011. The original plan was for he and Makau to pool their efforts, and those of pacemakers, in an attempt to set a new world record in Berlin. But Makau withdrew from Sunday’s marathon due to a knee injury, leaving his countryman Eliud Kipchoge, a former world 5000-meter champion, as Kipsang’s major rival. Kipchoge did come in second on Sunday in 2:04:05, a personal best by 1:25. Geoffrey Kipsang, no relation to the winner, was third in 2:06:26.
Wilson Kipsang had reached the midway point of Sunday’s race in 1:01:32. He and Kipchoge and Geoffrey Kipsang had fallen behind Makau’s record pace at 35-K, but Wilson Kipsang took control at that point and was close to his target pace at 40-K. From there on in, his speed carried him to the new marathon mark.
As reported by Pat Butcher, Kipsang called his 2:03:23 “a dream come true. Ten years ago, I watched Paul Tergat break the world record in Berlin, and now I have achieved that dream.” He added, “looking at my marathon progress and career so far, I think I have the potential to run faster.”
At a press conference on Friday, he had explained, “right from the start, I’ve prepared to run very well here. It’s in my mind to run the world record. Having run 2:03:42, I know it’s possible. I’ve trained to my very best, and if everything goes well with the pacemakers and my colleagues, I think we can do it. It’s a team effort, like in training, even more in a race.” He’d mentioned that he’d used some 40 athletes to help him train for Berlin, and that “after the sessions, I take them to a hotel and pay for tea or lunch.”
Florence Kiplagat, who won the women’s race in Berlin two years ago in 2:19:44, triumphed again on Sunday in 2:21:13, despite being slowed by a blister on her right foot in the race’s second half. Her Kenyan compatriot Sharon Cherop was second in 2:22:28. Germany’s Irina Mikitenko, a victor in Berlin five years ago in 2:19:19, is now 41 and set a new world masters best on Sunday with her third place 2:24:54. She asserted, I’m quite sure I can run faster.” American Desiree Davila, completing her first marathon since the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, was fifth in 2:29:15.