In a stunning display of distance running, Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge broke the world record* at the BMW Berlin Marathon on Sunday (16), winning the IAAF Gold Label road race in 2:01:39.
From the early stages of the race, the 33-year-old Kenyan had just a handful of pacemakers for company as they passed through five kilometres in 14:24 and 10 kilometres in 29:21. But shortly after 15 kilometres, which was reached in 43:38, two of the three pacemakers were unable to continue and withdrew from the race.
The final pacemaker, Josphat Boit, led Kipchoge through the half-way point in 1:01:06 before dropping out at 25 kilometres, covered in 1:12:24.
Running alone with 17 kilometres left, Kipchoge then sped up.
He passed the 35-kilometre checkpoint just a shade outside 1:41:00, suggesting a finishing time inside 2:02 was possible. By 40 kilometres, reached in 1:55:32, a world record looked a certainty.
Kipchoge maintained his form well in the closing stages and crossed the finish line in 2:01:39, taking one minute and 17 seconds off the previous world record set four years ago by Dennis Kimetto. It is the largest single improvement on the marathon world record since Derek Clayton improved the mark by two minutes and 23 seconds in 1967.
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure