Berlin Marathon Men — Kipchoge’s Fifth Win

Eliud Kipchoge had only pacers for company, through about 32K, as he powered to his record fifth Berlin victory. (KEVIN MORRIS)

BERLIN, GERMANY, September 24 — Eliud Kipchoge professes that “every race is a learning lesson” and in this year’s Berlin Marathon the Kenyan legend learned that he is a very tough act to follow as he fell short of matching the drama and speed of last year’s 2:01:09 WR and had to settle for a very solid 2:02:48 win.

“The lesson is that your plan may not go according to what you want, that is sport and you need to accept it,” Kipchoge said. “I am fortunate enough to win in the eighth-fastest time [equal-No. 8, to be exact]. I missed the World Record, but something else came in, to be the first human since the Berlin Marathon is organized to win five times. That is also something special and I am happy for it.”

Heading into the race, Kipchoge’s four Berlin wins in 2015, 2017, 2018WR, and 2022WR, matched Haile Gebrselassie’s four straight titles 2006–09. Not only did Kipchoge’s fifth win send him past Gebrselassie, but the 2:02:48 clocking gives him 5 of the 9 fastest all-time performances.

With far better offers on the table Kipchoge was drawn to Berlin by the prospects of a fifth win, the possibility of another WR quest, and the opportunity to reassert his preeminence after his misfortune (6th) in Boston back in April.

Two out of three isn’t bad as Kipchoge matched his rapid start last year in Berlin, zipping the opening 13K at 1:59:56 pace and crossing halfway in 60:22. While the cool and calm weather urged a fast start, the 52-degree dewpoint left Kipchoge challenged by the “heavy air” in the second half.

Fortunately for the Kenyan master, the power and efficiency that allows him to string together 2:50 kilometers also has value for preserving a lead and maintaining sub-3:00 kilometers without cracking.

The deceleration was slow but steady, as he dropped to 2:01:32 pace at 30K (1:26:25), and running solo slipped to 2:01:57 pace at 35K (1:41:10), with his lead down to 47 seconds. Kipchoge never faltered and he was able to hold off the hard-charging chase pack to score a 31-second win.

The winner admitted, “I was really not in a good way at the end of it as I had a little bit of hiccups, but that is normal in racing. We had a good plan, but honestly the last 10K was disappointing, but that is sport, we are human.”

While the closing pace was disappointing, with the win in his grasp Eliud could enjoy touring the historic city center. Cheered on by what appeared to be the largest crowds in race history, Kipchoge had the opportunity to embrace the significance of his record fifth win: “To be the first one winning the Berlin Marathon five times is something that I could only dream of. That is a special achievement as it is hard to have all the ingredients to win five times.”

Kipchoge went on to salute his boisterous fans. “We have so much history together in Berlin,” he said, “and I cannot put into words the feeling I get when running these streets.”

Berlin, of course, is not the only venue in which Kipchoge has excelled. He is also the two-time reigning Olympic champion. With the Paris ’24 Games on the horizon, Kipchoge said, “I want to concentrate on the experience from all 21 of my marathons, and put all of the experience next year in the Olympics in Paris and try to be on the podium or to win for the third time ever and make history.”

And what of that hard-charging chase pack? Just as Kipchoge started his celebrations, a pair of marathon debutants sped across the finish line. Kenyan Vincent Kipkemoi crossed second in 2:03:13, followed closely by Ethiopian Takele Bikila in 2:03:24, and the runners just kept coming.

Ten months out from Paris, Berlin was a well-timed opportunity to run an Olympic qualifier and a bevy of sub-2:10 marathoners toed the line aiming for the 2:08:15 standard or faster.

Much faster as it turns out, as the second pack of six athletes hit halfway in 61:29, with 25 runners crossing under 62:30. With the solo figure of Kipchoge drawing back into view at 30K, ’22 London Champ Amos Kipruto and Bikila sped away from that group.

The 21-year-old Bikila, an 8:09.37 steepler who moved to the roads last year and raced 59:56 for the half-marathon this past March, stuck with Kipruto’s torrid surge through a 14:15 split for the 30–35K segment. The burst trimmed 30 seconds off Kipchoge’s lead.

It also proved too much for Kipruto, and Bikila pressed on alone only to be overtaken by Kipkemoi. The 24-year-old formerly Japan-based Kenyan is an accomplished half-marathoner with a 59:09 PR who closed strong to join the 2:03 club.

In short order Berlin’23 became the deepest marathon in history with a record 9 men finishing under 2:05. This group included Amanal Petros with a German record of 2:04:58 — notably the first German standard set in Berlin.

Another 15 men bettered 2:06, among them 41-year-old Tadesse Abraham finishing 11th in a Swiss record 2:05:10.

Teshome Mekonen made a bold attempt to better Khalid Khannouchi’s 2:05:38 American Record running 62:24 for the opening half. He remained on sub-2:06 pace at 30K before slowing to a PR 2:10:16 and finishing 24th as the top American, with Jared Ward 27th in 2:11:44.


1. Eliud Kipchoge (Ken) 2:02:42 (x, 8 W) (1:00:22/1:02:20);

2. Vincent Kipkemoi (Ken) 2:03:13 PR; 3. Takele Bikila (Eth) 2:03:24 PR; 4. Ronald Korir (Ken) 2:04:22 PR; 5. Haftu Teklu (Eth) 2:04:42 PR; 6. Andualem Belay (Eth) 2:04:44 PR;

7. Amos Kipruto (Ken) 2:04:49 PR; 8. Philemon Kiplimo (Ken) 2:04:56 PR; 9. Amanal Petros (Ger) 2:04:58 NR; 10. Boniface Kimuti (Ken) 2:05:05 PR;

11. Tadesse Abraham (Swi) 2:05:10 NR; 12. Okbay Tsegay (Eri) 2:05:20 PR; 13. Josphat Boit (Ken) 2:05:42 PR; 14. Tadu Abate (Eth) 2:05:44;

15. Justus Kangogo (Ken) 2:05:57 PR; 16. Michael Somers (Bel) 2:08:09 PR; 17. Dennis Chirchir (Ken) 2:08:22; 18. Samuel Fitwi Sibhatu (Ger) 2:08:28 PR;

19. Dominic Nyairo (Ken) 2:08:47; 20. Hendrik Pfeiffer (Ger) 2:08:48 PR;

… 24. Teshome Mekonen (US) 2:10:16 PR;… 27. Jared Ward (US) 2:11:44;… 31. Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eri) 2:12:34;… 39. Tyler Pennel (US) 2:14:28;… 42. Eddie Mulder (US) 2:15:25 PR;… 49. Brendan Martin (US) 2:17:20.

(best-ever mark-for-place: 8–at least15)