Before the Berlin Marathon on Sunday morning, Eliud Kipchoge said he just hopes to have a time that would be his personal best. He achieved that goal – and more by winning the race in 2 hours 1 minute 39 seconds.
Kipchoge, a 33-year-old Kenyan widely regarded as the most dominant modern-day distance runner, shaved more than a minute from the previous world record set by Dennis Kimetto four years ago. But when Kipchoge established his superiority in recent years, Kimetto's brand (2:02:57) seemed like a placeholder for a record that Kipchoge would surely break. Experts thought it was only a matter of time.
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In fact, Kipchoge got through on Sunday and turned the streets of Berlin into his personal screen. He left at an incredible pace and covered the first 10 kilometers in 29:21. He was so fast that two of his three pacemakers had to get off about 15 minutes later. When his third rider bounced off the front in the middle of the race, Kipchoge was left alone.
But instead of slowing down, Kipchoge accelerated – a virtuoso performance that left the rest of a star-studded field behind. Amos Kipruto, a second-place Kenyan, finished just under two minutes behind Kipchoge in 2:06:23.
"I have no words to describe this day," Kipchoge told reporters afterwards.
Kipchoge, the reigning Olympic champion, has now won 10 of the 11 marathons he entered, including his last nine.
The youngest of four children, Kipchoge grew up in Kapsiywa, a small village in Nandi County. His mother worked as a teacher. His father died when he was very young. As a kid, he jogged to get to school.
Kipchoge, 33, lives with his wife and three children in Eldoret, Kenya, and spends time between there and a training camp in the mountains, 8,000 feet above sea level. He has a meticulous training program and wakes up at five in the morning to run.
He has already received a number of awards. In 2003, when he was 18 years old, Kipchoge won a world championship when he defeated Hicham El Guerrouj in the 5,000 meters at the Stade de France outside of Paris. El Guerrouj was then world record holder in the mile.
Kipchoge won a 2004 Bronze Olympic medal in the 5,000 meter and silver class. He won his marathon debut in Hamburg in the spring of 2013 with 2:05:30.
In 2016 he won a gold medal. Last year, Kipchoge had almost a two-hour marathon on a racetrack in Italy (he was 2:00:25).
An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to the time of Eliud Kipchoge at a 2017 Marathon in Italy. He finished in 2 hours 25 seconds, not less than two hours.