The men’s marathon world record lives another day but what a race it was at the Berlin Marathon.
Eliud Kipchoge ran 2:03:32 to win the iconic marathon through the German capital on Sunday morning, with Guye Adola in second in 2:03:46. Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew was third in 2:06:12.
In the women’s race, which didn’t feature any world or Olympic champions with no real threat to the longstanding world record, three runners broke 2:21 though the end result wasn’t close. The favourite entering the event was Gladys Cherono of Kenya, the only woman in the field who had broken 2:20 entering Sunday. She won in 2:20:23 with 23-year-old Ethiopian Ruti Aga in second in in 2:20:41. Kenyan Valary Aiyabei was third in 2:20:53.
In the men’s race, it was at 37K that a relative unknown, Ethiopia’s Adola, who was making his debut at the marathon, looked to have put away Kenya’s Kipchoge, arguably the greatest marathoner of this time. Adola, according to stat man Ken Nakamura, has a lifetime best over the half-marathon of 59:06, is now the second-fastest Ethiopian of all-time, ahead of the great Haile Gebrselassie.
The 26-year-old, who had never run a competitive 42.2K before the Berlin Marathon on Sunday morning, in rainy conditions, put in a surge in the late stages of the race, but Kipchoge, who had a 2:03:05 PB entering Sunday’s World Marathon Major, clawed his back to level by 38K. He is, after all, the reigining Olympic marathon champion and ran 2:00:25 at the Nike Breaking2 project in Monza, Italy in May, a non-record-eligible environment.
Berlin was meant to be a three-way heavyweight battle in the men’s race with the likes of Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele, the 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder and 2:03:03 runner, and Wilson Kipsang, the former men’s marathon world record holder. Only Kipchoge, 32, of those three were contention when it counted.
— NN Running Team (@NNRunningTeam) September 24, 2017
Then at 38.5K, Adola surged again. But Kipchoge was running the tangents, and Adola wasn’t. Kipchoge was smiling, Adola wasn’t. Back together by 40K, Kipchoge ran 2:53 for the 1K split between 40-41K, which turned the tables, seemingly ending Adola’s bid at a victory in what was the fastest marathon debut on a record-eligible course in history.
They were four seconds outside of world record pace at 34K and continued to slip in the closing stages of the race. (It was between 30-35K that Dennis Kimetto ran a staggering 14:10 split during his 2:02:57 world record performance from 2014.) The pacers for the men’s race were expected to take the lead pack through the halfway point in 60:45 but were 45 seconds off of that, though still under world record pace at that point. Rainy conditions slowed the course, considered the fastest in the world.
Sunday’s victory was Kipchoge’s second in Berlin, and eighth of his career within a sanctioned marathon. The only time he has ever lost a 42.2K on the roads was in 2013, when Kipsang ran a then-world record to defeat the great marathoner, who settled for second. That result was also in Berlin.
Kipsang, a former world record holder, and one of the three favourites entering Sunday, dropped out of the race at 30K. He was seen vomiting on the side of the road. Bekele, the defending Berlin Marathon champion, is believed to have dropped out before the 35K mark. He fell off the pace around 22K.
Kipsang dnf at 30k pic.twitter.com/8mf6uQikU1
— LetsRun.com (@letsrundotcom) September 24, 2017
Kipchoge’s 2:03:32 is a world-leading time and 27 seconds off his legal PB of 2:03:05. For Adola, it was a massive breakthrough as his biggest performance previously was perhaps a bronze medal performance at the 2014 IAAF Half-Marathon World Championships.
The next Abbott World Marathon Major is the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8.
And yes, Kipchoge kept running when he passed the finish line. (Just have a look below.)
— SPIKES (@spikesmag) September 24, 2017