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Back in Berlin: Can Kipchoge Run Another Marathon World Record?

BY: Rachel Boswell
20 September 2023

Genius On Asphalt Terrain. Godfather Of Alphafly Trainers. Greatest Of All Time.

That’s Eliud Kipchoge – the marathon GOAT. 

The World’s Mightiest Marathoner

You don’t need to be a runner to be impressed by Kipchoge.

Last September, he stormed serenely around the streets of Berlin to run the fastest-ever official marathon, his time of 2:01:09 shifting standards in the running world. Now, the Kenyan is just days away from toeing the line at the 2023 Berlin Marathon – but can Kipchoge beat his personal best in the German capital again?

If we observe the trend of his performances in Berlin, then yes – it’s looking promising. The fabled runner has already won the Berlin Marathon on four occasions, with his times getting progressively quicker on every attempt. In fact, Kipchoge set a marathon world record when he won the famously fast race in a time of 2:01:39 in 2018, before shattering it again by a full 30 seconds in 2022. 

Kipchoge has scooped many marathon accolades beyond Berlin as well. To date, he has won a total of 15 marathons – including 10 Abbott World Marathon Majors and two Olympic titles – and he holds the course record for the Tokyo Marathon too. Thanks to his previous specialism in the 5000m, Kipchoge has also reaped several major championship titles in shorter distances on the track. 

And let’s not forget his legendary 1:59:40 marathon at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in May 2019 – a spectacular experiment which saw Kipchoge become the first person in history to break the two-hour barrier for the marathon. While it wasn’t ratified as a new world record under World Athletics rules, it was eye-popping proof of what a human can achieve on two feet over the 26.2-mile distance. 

The End Of A Good Run?

Despite his immense career highs, the humble great is not immune from upset.

Earlier this year, Kipchoge shocked spectators with his sixth-place finish at the Boston Marathon, where he also ran his slowest marathon time to date. It was very much heartbreak at Heartbreak Hill, as it was at this point in the race that Kipchoge started to fall behind, having just missed a drinks station with about six miles to go. Was this drink slip-up the cause of his struggle, or has the 38-year-old passed his peak? 

The latter could be cause for concern, as Kipchoge now faces hot competition from a young, ever-quickening elite men’s marathon field. 

Among those at his heels is fellow Kenyan Amos Kipruto, who will also be fighting for the win in Berlin this weekend. Having charged to first place at the 2022 London Marathon, Kipruto already has a taste for Abbott World Marathon Major victory, and he placed second (to Kipchoge on both occasions) at the 2018 Berlin Marathon and 2022 Tokyo Marathon, where he clocked his personal best of 2:03:13.

Although he won’t be racing in Germany on Sunday, Kelvin Kiptum – another countryman – is dangerously close to stealing Kipchoge’s marathon world record. At the age of 23, he already has a staggering running CV, which includes setting a new course record of 2:01:53 at the 2022 Valencia Marathon – his marathon debut – and becoming the third person in history to break two hours and two minutes in the process.

Kiptum then won and set a new course record of 2:01:25 at the 2023 London Marathon, this performance being the second-quickest marathon ever and a mere 16 seconds outside of Kipchoge’s world record. At this rate, Kiptum could overtake Kipchoge before we know it. 

Either way, the result of the elite men’s race at the 2023 Berlin Marathon might not be as predictable as some might imagine – or hope. Kipchoge’s trademark cool may well be tested this Sunday, and there could be some stress on the final Straße as a winner is decided just past (not at!) the Brandenburg Gate.

Do you think Kipchoge will take the crown in Berlin again? Or will another contender claim victory in the elite men’s race? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image credit: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

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