Assefa Smashes Women’s Marathon World Record In Berlin, Kipchoge Wins Men’s Race

Winner of the women’s race Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa (L) and winner of the men’s race Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge celebrate on the podium with their trophies after the Berlin Marathon on September 24, 2023 in Berlin, Germany.(Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)


Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia broke the women’s marathon world record by more than two minutes in Berlin on Sunday, while Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge won the men’s event for the sixth time.

Assefa clocked 2hr 11min 53sec, more over two minutes faster than Kenyan Brigid Kosgei’s previous world record of 2:14:04 set in Chicago in 2019.

“I wanted to break the marathon world record, but I couldn’t imagine that it would result in a time under 2:12,” said the 29-year-old.

“I am very happy.”

Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa celebrates on the podium after winning the women’s race of the Berlin Marathon on September 24, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. Assefa smashed the women’s marathon world record in Berlin, winning in 2hr 11min 53sec, more than two minutes ahead of the previous mark. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Assefa said she held back in the first half of the race “so that I wouldn’t be tired in the second half… in the second part, I could bring a lot more power into it.”

She expressed her hope that her victory would “motivate many talented women, not only those at a high level, but those who may be lower down to rise up.”

Sheila Chepkirui of Kenya finished nearly six minutes ahead of Assefa. Magdalena Shauri of Tanzania finished third, over seven minutes behind Assefa.

Chepkirui told reporters she “had to suffer in the second half”, but said “I’m happy, I’m on the podium.”

Assefa pulled away early in excellent circumstances in Berlin and maintained her pace to become the fourth woman to establish a world record in the German city, but the first since Japan’s Naoko Takahashi in 2001.

Assefa crossed the finish line mere seconds after men’s world record holder Kipchoge finished in 2hr 02min 42sec.

Kipchoge finished 31 seconds ahead of fellow Kenyan Vincent Kipkemoi, with Ethiopian Tadese Takele coming in third at 42 seconds.

Kipchoge’s fifth Berlin victory surpasses Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie’s four victories, but the Kenyan finished outside his previous world record of 2:01:09 established last year in Berlin.

“Sure, I expected myself to be able to set a world record again, but I can live with the fact that it didn’t work out,” Kipchoge told the post-race press conference.

“The beauty of sport is to accept the outcome and move on” Kipchoge said “sport is really beautiful”.

Asked what had changed from his first win in Berlin to his last, he said “running is no longer an individual event, running is a team event.”

Kipchoge, who has won the last two Olympic golds, looked forward to the 2024 Games in Paris, saying he “hoped to repeat his victory” but said he would be “happy (to be on) the podium”.

 ‘Coming Home’

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge celebrates on the podium after winning the men’s race of the Berlin Marathon on September 24, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Despite reservations following a surprise sixth-place finish at the Boston Marathon in April, Kipchoge, 38, said he felt he was “coming home” at the course where he had established the world record twice.

Kipchoge and Ethiopian Derseh Kindie broke away from the pack early, hitting the halfway point in 60:21, which was slower than Kipchoge’s 2022 world-record performance of 59:51.

Kindie, whose personal best is seven minutes slower than Kipchoge’s, kept pace with him until 31 kilometers, when he suddenly dropped back and appeared to drop out of the race, walking carefully on the footpath while other runners passed him.

Kipchoge kept up his pace and crossed the line well clear of other runners for a record fifth win.

Two minutes before the marathon began, police dragged climate protesters carrying buckets of orange paint off the course within sight of the runners standing on the starting blocks.

Only traces of paint remained as the race began on time.

Berlin mayor Kai Wegner started the race pressing a red buzzer, the organisers feeling the traditional starting pistol was inappropriate in light of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

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