If he wasn't already the greatest, Eliud Kipchoge made it official at the 2018 BMW BERLIN-MARATHON as he smashed the world record with a time of 2:01:39.
The Kenyan, already a three-time AbbottWMM Series champion and defending Berlin champion, set out with three pacemakers at an unrelenting tempo, passing through halfway in 61:06, just a slither outside his planned target of 61:00.
The Olympic champion lost two of his assistants before the 25km mark and ran the last 17km alone, but the lack of support did nothing to slow him down as he surged onwards, staying well inside the times clocked for 25, 30 and 35km by compatriot Dennis Kimetto when he set his mark of 2:02:57 here in 2014. In fact, his 30km-35km split was his fastest 5km of the entire race.
As the Brandenburg Gate came into view, there was nothing that could stop the 33-year-old from making history. He passed under the famous landmark with the crowd roaring him home.
The elation he showed as he broke the tape was evident, after two previous failed attempts to lower Kimetto’s record in Berlin.
Kipchoge admitted afterwards: “I am really grateful and happy to smash the world record. I missed the first time and the second time. You can't miss the third time! Thank you to everybody.”
The margin by which Kipchoge has broken the record suggests it will take a superhuman effort to bring it down any further and, given that his nearest rival, Amos Kipruto, was almost five minutes behind him in second place, there seems no immediate challenger to the great man’s position as the best marathoner on Planet Earth.
Wilson Kipsang, who set his own world record here in 2013, came in third in 2:06:48, explaining afterwards: "If we had tried to run his (Kipchoghe's) pace, we wouldn't have finished."
Kipchoge has won all but one of his AbbottWMM races. Not only did he extend his own record for the most men’s AbbottWMM victories to eight, but he also equalled the all-time best for wins in races that now make up the Series. Bill Rodgers won four times each at both Boston and New York City between 1975 and 1980.
Gladys Cherono made it a Kenyan double in the women’s race as she secured back-to-back Berlin wins and set a new course record into the bargain.
The 35-year-old hung back in the first half of the race as Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba set the pace surrounded by a small battalion of male championship athletes.
But Dibaba faded after halfway, later attributing her struggles to cramp. Cherono seized her moment to take control and urged her pacemaker to turn up the heat on her competition, eventually pulling away to win in 2:18:11, 23 seconds ahead of Ruti Aga, with Dibaba coming in third.
Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat was fourth in her sixth AbbottWMM event, and received her own Six Star Medal at the finish – another bauble to her impressive collection.
The top three women all came home under 2:19:00, underlining how fast the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON course is.
As if we needed any confirmation following Mr. Kipchoge’s earlier exploits.