At long last, the missing piece from Eliud Kipchoge’s incredible résumé has been filled. The greatest marathoner in history and the marathon world record holder are now one and the same—the 33-year-old Kenyan ran 2:01:39 (4:38/mile) on Sunday morning in Berlin to obliterate Dennis Kimetto’s 2:02:57 mark that had stood since 2014.
Simply put, Kipchoge’s performance today in the German capital is one of the greatest athletic achievements in world history. It certainly will go down as one of greatest spectacles the sport of running has ever seen, and will likely be a record that will stand for many years to come in the marathon. Unless Kipchoge himself surpasses his mark from Sunday, the record may never be broken.
Eliud Kipchoge ● 2:01:40 ● World Record pic.twitter.com/iptKtN14k0— FloTrack (@FloTrack) September 16, 2018
Perhaps the most remarkable split of Kipchoge’s run was 60:33 in the final 13.1 miles he ran coming home. Kipchoge crushed the majority of the second half by himself—the final pacer dropped out just past 25k—after hitting the half marathon in 61:06.
Eliud Kipchoge's Kilometer Splits:
Splits (Per KM)
The 2016 Olympic champion showed the world that a performance like this was possible back in May of 2017 when he ran 2:00:25 at Nike’s Breaking 2 event in Monza, Italy. While he certainly benefitted greatly then from a highly controlled environment that featured constant pacing and absolutely perfect conditions—elements that made the run unofficial for record purposes—the time still showed that Kipchoge was a man among boys in the marathon.
With good weather on the right course, there was little doubt after Monza that Kipchoge would soon seal his legacy by owning the world record.
And on Sunday, Kipchoge didn’t just break Dennis Kimetto’s previous 2:02:57 world record set four years ago in Berlin—he utterly embarrassed it. His intention was clear as he zoomed off the start line with his three pacers in tow, hitting the first kilometer in a blistering 2:43. By 5k, Kipchoge was already nine seconds ahead of the field when he split 14:24 (2:01:31 pace), and by halfway (61:06), his margin was a gigantic 1:01 over Wilson Kipsang.
Kipchoge's 5k Splits:
Split (Elapsed Time)
Kipchoge won on Sunday by a ridiculous 4:44, as no other man broke 2:06. Kenyan Amos Kipruto was second in 2:06:23. Kipsang, who ran 2:03:13 back in 2013 in Berlin to set a world record, was third on Sunday in 2:06:48.
For a man who has been so superior to his contemporaries over the last few years in the marathon—he won eight straight entering Sunday, and nine if you count the Breaking 2 event—Kipchoge wasn’t afraid of setting a seemingly impossible pace. Simply targeting Kimetto's time wasn't enough; Kipchoge needed to show the world once and for all that he stands alone atop the 26.2-mile mountain.
With his 1:18 demolition of the previous record on Sunday—nearly three seconds faster per mile than Kimetto's mark—Kipchoge has now reached a summit that seems befitting of a man who has rarely been challenged in the event.
The marathon is officially his alone, by a long shot, and now that the final piece of his greatest-of-all-time puzzle is in place, Eliud Kipchoge can enjoy the view from the top.
Gladys Cherono Runs 2:18:11 Berlin Course Record & No. 4 All-time Mark
The women's race was understandably overshadowed by Kipchoge's heroics, but 35-year-old Kenyan Gladys Cherono had herself a marvelous day in Berlin as well. Cherono won in 2:18:11, breaking the previous course record (2:19:12, Mizuki Noguchi, 2005) by over a minute.
Your 2018 Berlin Marathon champions and new course record holders: Eliud Kipchoge (2:01:39, WR) and Gladys Cherono (2:18:11, #4 All Time) pic.twitter.com/KdOY1BXV6X— FloTrack (@FloTrack) September 16, 2018
The time makes Cherono the fourth-best women's marathoner in history behind only Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25), Mary Keitany (2:17:01), and Tirunesh Dibaba (2:17:56). Ethiopian Ruti Aga finished runner-up on Sunday (2:18:34, #6 all-time), while pre-race favorite Dibaba was third in 2:18:55.
While Kipchoge clearly stole the show in Berlin, the depth of the women's race is certainly noteworthy. Sunday's marathon marked the first time in history that three women have broken 2:19 in the same race.