Eliud Kipchoge won the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, and he absolutely demolished the previous world record in the process. The 33-year-old Kenyan finished the race in 2:01:39, which is 1 minute and 18 seconds quicker than the former fastest marathon time. (That was set in 2014, also in Berlin, by Dennis Kimetto). Had Kipchoge stopped just short of the finish line and listened to Queen’s “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” in its entirety, he still would have had 10 full seconds to cross and break the record.
It is the greatest jump in marathon record times since 1967, but Kipchoge didn’t even look tired at the final stretch.
Of the 11 competitive marathons he has run, Kipchoge has finished first in 10 of them (he came in second place in his second ever marathon). He has won the London and Berlin Marathons three times each, the Chicago Marathon in 2014, and the 2016 Olympic Gold Medal. Despite being the most technically gifted marathoner in known history, Kipchoge hadn’t set a world record until Sunday’s race. He ran 26.2 miles in 2:00:25 last year, but that was on a Formula One track as part of a Nike promotional effort to post a sub-2-hour marathon, so the time didn’t count as official. Berlin, however, does.
How does one run a marathon in 2:01:39? The course plays a big part. Berlin is flat and famously fast, and Kipchoge’s achievement represents the 11th time a world record has been set there. It also helps to be a perpetual motion machine. According to Runner’s World, Kipchoge ran the first 18 miles at a 4:39 mile pace.
“It was always my ambition to smash the world record, and I felt very confident,” Kipchoge said after Sunday’s race. “The lesson of running is to train well, and then have full faith in your training and show the proof in the race.” Can’t argue with that.