It wasn’t the race that anybody anticipated, but Eliud Kipchoge came away from the 2017 Berlin Marathon on Sunday with the win in 2:03:32 and some unanticipated late-race competition from a newcomer to the distance.
Although the prerace hype focused on a battle between the “big three” of Kipchoge, Wilson Kipsang, and Kenenisa Bekele, by 30K the competition came down to just Kipchoge and Guye Adola, a 26-year-old Ethiopian running his first marathon. Bekele lost the lead pack just past the halfway point (he eventually dropped out) and Kipsang suddenly stopped at 30K without showing any signs of distress.
Adola came with a personal best of 59:06 for the half marathon and now is the owner of the fastest marathon debut ever, finishing second in 2:03:46, besting Dennis Kimetto’s 2:04:16 previous debut record he set in 2012.
Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia was third in 2:06:09.
Although the goal was to beat Kimetto’s world record time of 2:02:57, the leaders fell off that pace after 30K. They passed the halfway point in 1:01:29, putting them within reach, though it was not to be in the end. The weather conditions were not ideal and likely made such lofty objectives difficult, with rain, 97 percent humidity, and a starting temperature of 58 degrees.
Kipchoge, 32, is from Kenya and the 2016 Olympic marathon champion. He became a fan favorite following the Nike Breaking2 experiment, where he ran a 2:00:25 on a racetrack in Monza, Italy. Though it remains the fastest time ever for 26.2 miles, it didn’t count as an official record because of the tactics used, such as the team of rotating pacesetters who aided his attempt to break two hours.
With his race on Sunday, Kipchoge now owns three of the fastest marathons in history, not including his Breaking attempt.
In the women’s race, Kenya’s Gladys Cherono claimed the win in a time of 2:20:21. Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga finished second in 2:20:41 with Kenya’s Valary Ayabei claiming third in 2:20:53.