The German capital laid witness to its ninth separate marathon world record yesterday as Wilson Kipsang became the fastest ever athlete over 26.2 miles. The 31-year-old, who had signalled his intention of setting a new WR in the lead up to Berlin Marathon, slashed 15 seconds off the previous mark set by compatriot Patrick Makau in 2011 to win in a time of 2:03:23.
Around 40,000 runners completed the race in what was its 40th staging, with competitors enjoying cool, dry and sunny conditions. The event was started by four-time winner Haile Gebrselassie, who twice set the world record in Berlin.
Kipsang, leading a pack that included fellow Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge and Geoffrey Kipsang, made his decisive move with 10k remaining. At 40k, Kipsang clocked 1:57:12 - just three seconds quicker than Makau's record - but pressed ahead over the closing stages of the race to win his seventh event over the distance since competing in Paris three years ago.
Speaking after the event, Kipsang, whose approach to the finish line was cruelly interrupted by a spectator running on to the course, commented: "I'm very happy that I have won and broken the world record. I was really inspired by [fellow Kenyan] Paul Tergat when he broke the world record here 10 years ago and I'm very happy that I was in a position to break the record on the same course." Looking ahead, Kipsang sent a warning to prospective competitors, adding: "If I prepare very well, and with the same shape (I can go faster). Today there was a lot of wind, I was really fighting."
In the women's competition, pre-race favorite Florence Kiplagat secured a convincing victory, coming home in 2:21:13. Kiplagat was more than a minute ahead of compatriot Sharon Cherop, second in 2:22:28, with Germany's Irina Mikitenko setting a new over-40 world-best of 2:24:54 in third position.
Kipsang's performance represents the ninth separate occasion a world record has been set in Berlin and underlines its status as the fastest course in the world. For the first time in the event's history, a fence was erected along Tiergarten city park amid security concerns after the Boston bombings in April.