A newcomer to Berlin found sensational form to break the women’s course record. Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia went to the start line with a personal best of 2:34:01 which didn’t suggest she would be a contender for honours. She confounded expectations, however, to win in 2:15:37, taking full advantage of ideal weather conditions. The 26-year-old ran the third fastest marathon by a woman in history as well as an Ethiopian national record and a world best for the year. Assefa carved a huge slice off the previous record of 2:18:11, set by the Kenyan Gladys Cherono in 2018.
These performances by both champions helped make the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON the highest quality marathon in history. The combined times of the results for Kipchoge and Assefa came to 4:16:46. This year’s Tokyo marathon previously occupied the top spot with an aggregate winners’ time of 4:18:42. Further statistics reflected the impact of the 48th edition of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON, one of the races in the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series, with 45,527 entries from 157 countries.
“The crowning glory of today were the 12th world record in our history and then such a strong performance to break the women’s course record. We had planned for Eliud to break the record but I hadn’t expected Tigist to run a time like that,” said the Race Director Mark Milde. “It was also great to see people coming out on the street to cheer the runners.“
Weather conditions were outstanding for distance running with temperatures hovering between 12 and 15 degrees Centigrade, mostly clouded skies and barely a breath of wind with humidity between 85 and 75 per cent. From the start, Eliud Kipchoge seemed intent on attacking the two-hour barrier, joined by two Ethiopians in his incredible tempo, Guye Adola, last year’s winner, and Andamlak Belihu. It was a surprise to see the latter go with this kind of pace, since his best time previously was 2:09:43. By 15 kilometres Adola dropped back and subsequently dropped out at 35km. The pace also proved too much for Belihu as he lost contact at 25km but bravely hung on to cross the finish line near the Brandenburg Gate in a personal best of 2:06:40 for fourth place.
For a long time Eliud Kipchoge was on course for a time under two hours. He went through halfway in an astonishing 59:51, keeping right on track for a sub-two clocking. He had done this already, running 1:59:40.2 in Vienna in 2019 but the event did not conform to regulations for record-breaking. But from 25 kilometres the Kenyan was running solo after the last pacemaker dropped out and his pace slowed, by his extraordinary standards. As the prospect of breaking two hours faded, so did his chances of breaking 2:01. Earlier Eliud Kipchoge had gone through 25km and 30km in 1:11:08 and 1:25:39 respectively. No official world records are recognised for these distances by World Athletics, the world governing body for track and field, but these are the fastest times ever recorded. Although he was slowing down, it was only by his incredible yardstick and he still smashed the world record with 2:01:09.
“I’m overjoyed to break the world record in Berlin. I wanted to run the first half fast,” said Eliud Kipchoge. “I felt good during the race, I was very relaxed,” added the double Olympic champion. Kipchoge has now won the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON four times, beginning in 2015, then 2017 and the following year before this latest triumph. The achievement draws him level with another all-time great, Haile Gebrselasssie, for the number of record Berlin victories. For good measure, the Kenyan also made more or less sure of winning the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series for 2022 with this triumph.
The women’s race turned unexpectedly into one of the highest quality marathons in history. After a group of five went through halfway in 68:13, the pace rose still further. By 30 kilometres the Ethiopians Tigist Assefa, Tigist Abayechew and Sisay Meseret Gola were timed at 1:36:41, on course for a finishing time of 2:16:30.
From there Tigist Assefa, who had concentrated on track races for the first part of her career but now discovered that the marathon was really her best event, broke free to win in 2:15:37. It was only her second marathon but took her to third on the world all-time list, only the world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya with 2:14:04 and Britain’s Paula Radcliffe with 2:15:25 have run faster. “I’m overjoyed at this win,” said Tigist Assefa. “I wasn’t afraid of my rivals, even though they had faster best times than me. This is only my second marathon and I hope to run even faster at the next one,” said Tigist Assefa.
The pre-race favourite and American record holder Keira D’Amato finished in sixth in 2:21:48 but a debutant, Rosemary Wanjiru, burst onto the world stage at a stroke. The Kenyan ran 2:18:00, the second fastest debut of all time. The Ethiopian Tigist Abayechew finished third in 2:18:03. These results placed the runner-up and third finisher as the 15th and 16th fastest women in history. The high quality results continued with Worknesh Edesa of Ethiopia taking fourth place in 2:18:51, another to break 2:20. Four women breaking 2:19 in a marathon has been achieved only once previously and that was in Tokyo in February.
1. Eliud Kipchoge KEN 2:01:09
2. Mark Korir KEN 2:05:58
3. Tadu Abate ETH 2:06:28
4. Andamlak Belihu ETH 2:06:40
5. Abel Kipchumba KEN 2:06:49
6. Limenih Getachew ETH 2:07:07
7. Kenya Sonota JPN 2:07:14
8. Tatsuya Maruyama JPN 2:07:50
9. Kento Kikutani JPN 2:07:56
10. Zablon Chumba KEN 2:08:01
11. Haftom Weldaj GER/ERI 2:09:06
1. Tigist Assefa ETH 2:15:37
2. Rosemary Wanjiru KEN 2:18:00
3. Tigist Abayechew ETH 2:18:03
4. Workenesh Edesa ETH 2:18:51
5. Sisay Meseret Gola ETH 2:20:58
6. Keira D’Amato USA 2:21:48
7. Rika Kaseda JPN 2:21:55
8. Ayuko Suzuki JPN 2:22:02
9. Sayaka Sato JPN 2:22:13
10. Vibian Chepkirui KEN 2:22:21