BERLIN (AFP) – Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto set a new world record in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, becoming the first man to break the 2hr 03min barrier with a run of 2hr 02min 57sec.
It was the second year running that the record had been broken in Berlin, the previous best being the 2:03:23 set over the same course last year by another Kenyan, Wilson Kipsang.
Kimetto, the pre-race favourite, was part of a seven-man breakaway group after 20km, which included fellow-Kenyans Emmanuel Mutai and Geoffrey Kamworor.
But Kimetto shook off Mutai four kilometres from home and crossed the line in record time over what is regarded as the world’s fastest marathon course.
He said: “As the race went on, I saw I could do it, I’m delighted to have won.”
Mutai finished second, also inside the previous record time with a run of 2:03:13, with Ethiopia’s Abera Kuma a long way back in third in 2:05:56.
Tirfi Tsegaye led an Ethiopia 1-2 in the women’s race, winning in 2:20:18 from Feyse Tadese (2:20:27).
Shalane Flanagan of the United Statges was third in 2:21:14.
Kimetto, 30, is from the Eldoret in Kenya’s Rift Valley region — a part of the country that has produced some of the most dominant distance runners in history.
He was working as a farmer in an impoverished rural area before he took up running in his mid-20’s, joining the training group of Geoffrey Mutai — a Boston, Berlin and two-time New York marathon champion and the former holder of the unofficial world best, a 2:03.02 set in Boston.
His first major win came in Nairobi’s Half Marathon in 2011, and he went on to finish second behind his training partner Mutai in the Berlin Marathon in 2012.
His 2:04.16 was the fastest marathon debut in history, and notable as he is one of a new breed of Kenyan road racers who do not have a track pedigree.
In 2013 he won the Tokyo Marathon, setting a course record of 2:06.50, and then the 2013 Chicago Marathon in a course record of 2:03.45 — where he also beat Emmanuel Mutai into second place.