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Race news BMW Berlin-Marathon

25 September 2023, 10am

2:11:53 new women’s record

Tigist Assefa makes history with extraordinary time in Berlin

BMW Berlin-Marathon
Sun 24 September 2023

Assefa tigistfh berlin23

Tigist Assefa won the BMW Berlin Marathon with a world record straight out of the realms of fairy tale.

The Ethiopian’s pace did not slacken as she ran through the Brandenburg Gate to cross the finish line in a sensational time of 2:11:53, obliterating the world record of Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei who ran 2:14:04 in Chicago in 2019. The scale of improvement was huge, 2 minutes, 11 seconds, marking an achievement of historic proportions. The last time the women’s world record featured such an improvement was 40 years ago when the American Joan Benoit brought the time down from 2:25:29 to 2:22:43 in 1988.

Eliud Kipchoge also continued his record breaking, if only in terms of the number of his wins in Berlin. The Kenyan achieved his fifth triumph here with his world-class time of 2:02:42. Although the 38-year-old finished well outside his world record of 2:01:09, this was nonetheless the eighth fastest performance of all time. In terms of the combined winners’ times, the 49th BMW Berlin Marathon became the fastest race at the distance in history with a total time of 4:14:35. It was the second time since 1999 that the race in Berlin now holds both marathon world records.

Amanal Petros also contributed a slice of German marathon history in breaking his own national record with 2:04:58 for ninth place, the first German to run under 2:05. His time would have been worth a world record 20 years ago. It was also a first for the BMW Berlin Marathon, never before had the race produced a national men’s record since its inception in 1974. A year away from the Olympic Games, Amanal Petros is well on the way to reaching the highest level of performance. He became the fourth fastest European ever, overtaking Britain’s Mo Farah.

A record total of 47,912 runners from 156 countries registered for the 49th edition of the BMW Berlin Marathon. The event is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM) and is also a Platinum Label Road Race of World Athletics.

The elite women set off at a cracking pace. By 10km, the leading group comprised 13 runners, going through in 31:45 and on world record schedule. Tigist Assefa appeared so relaxed that when she reached the drinks station at 15km, she reached for a cup, drank, then handed it to one of her male pacemakers. A short while later she tore the leading group apart with a massive increase in pace. She and her fellow Ethiopian Workenesh Edesa covered the kilometre from 15km in 2:59 and Assefa went through halfway in 66:20, a time good enough to win many international races at this shorter distance.

She proceeded to cover the second half even faster, clocking 65:33. “In the first half I held something back in reserve for the second half,” explained Tigist Assefa, whose winning time of 2:11:53 would have secured victory at a number of men’s titles in Berlin in the 1980s. In 1983, Karel Lismont of Belgium won in 2:13:37, the following year Denmark’s John Skovbjerg triumphed in 2:13:35. “I’ve trained six months for this race. I think this should ensure I am selected for the Olympic Games.”

Sheila Chepkirui ran an outstanding 2:17:49 for second place while Magdalena Shaun on her marathon debut caused a major surprise by taking third place in 2:18:41 for Tanzania. Eight women went under 2:20:00.

Domenika Mayer produced the most notable performance by a German woman, going through halfway 71:50 to finish in a personal best of 2:23:47, an improvement of just over three minutes. This made her the second fastest German woman ever though some way still behind the current record holder, Irina Mikitenko, who won Berlin with 2:19:19 in 2008. This performance should earn Domenika Mayer a place on the German marathon team for next year’s Olympics in Paris.

Eliud Kipchoge began the men’s race at a very fast tempo, led by three pacemakers. The double Olympic champion had already twice broken the world record here, firstly with 2:01:39 in 2018 and last year with 2:01:09. The signs looked good as he went through halfway in 60:21 and right on world record schedule. It was a surprise to see beside him the unheralded Derseh Kindie, whose best before today was 2:08:23. The Ethiopian stayed in contention for much of the race but came to a stop around 10km from the finish and dropped out. At this point Eliud Kipchoge’s pace had dipped and he was no longer on world record schedule.

His pace dropped further and behind him the marathon debutant Vincent Kipkemboi was making up the leeway. Kipchoge put in another effort and moved clear, winning by a clear margin in 2:02:42. Kipkemboi finished a highly creditable second in 2:03:13 and yet another debutant, Tadese Takele of Ethiopia, was third in 2:03:24. “I missed the world record but I now have the record for the number of wins in Berlin, that’s also something special,” reflected Eliud Kipchoge.

Nine men ran under 2:05:00 to give the BMW Berlin Marathon outstanding strength in depth. In ninth place was Amanal Petros who had set himself an ambitious pace from the start, going through halfway in 62:12. His split at 30km was 1:28:16 which would have given a finishing time of 2:04 but he could not quite maintain that fine pace to the end. Nonetheless, he took a big slice off his personal best from 2:06:27 to 2:04:58. The improvement of just a second short of one and a half minutes was the biggest among German men since the 1976 Olympic champion Waldemar Cierpinski ran 2:09:55.

“I loved the atmosphere around the course. The last two kilometres were fantastic although I was very tired. This race was something special. I had this kind of time in my sights but, of course, in a marathon anything can happen,” said a delighted Amanal Petros.

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