Kenya’s Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge pulverised the marathon world record with a blistering run slicing 78 seconds off the previous best.
The 33-year-old Eliud Kipchoge, widely seen as the greatest marathon runner of the modern era, ran an official time of two hours, one minute and 39 seconds on a sunny day along the flat inner-city course, smashing Dennis Kimetto’s previous record that had stood since 2014.
Fellow Kenyan Gladys Cherono won the women’s race with a course record and best time of the year of 2:18:11, leaving Ethiopians Ruti Aga and pre-race favourite Tirunesh Dibaba in second and third place respectively.
Kipchoge’s run was the biggest improvement on the marathon mark since Australian Derek Clayton took almost two and a half minutes off the record in 1967.
“I lack words to describe this day,” said a beaming Kipchoge, a former world champion over 5,000 metres and marathon gold medallist at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016. “I am really grateful, happy to smash the world record.”
“They say you can miss it twice but not a third time. So I want to thank everyone who has helped me,” said Kipchoge, who had won in Berlin in 2015 and 2017.
“I am just so incredibly happy to have finally run the world record as I never stopped having belief in myself. Running a sub two hours two minutes was simply amazing and I believe I can still go below that with such good conditions.”
Kipchoge, who last year took part in the Nike Breaking Two project, where he ran two hours and 25 seconds with the aid of “illegal” in and out pacemakers, started off at a sizzling pace.
After quickly shaking off his biggest rival, Wilson Kipsang, and with virtually no wind, it was clear Kipchoge’s only opponent would be the clock.
His three pacemakers were pushed to the limit to keep the tempo high as Kipchoge dipped well below world-record time at the halfway mark.