Eluid Kipchoge has done the unbelievable, Deepthi Velkur looks back at the marathoner’s stunning run.
The BMW Berlin Marathon is a premier long-distance running event that attracts many runners from across the globe. It is regarded as the fastest course of the six major marathons and it has been the site of seven world record times since the event started in 1974.
In this year’s edition, which took place on 16th September, there were a total of 44,389 runners from across 133 countries and it has been a much-awaited event as it brought together two of the greatest runners in history – Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge and former world record holder Wilson Kipsang.
In what was an astonishing display of distance running, Eliud Kipchoge broke the world record winning the IAAF Gold Label road race in 2:01:39 in the process shaving off 78 seconds from the previous record set by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014.
Kipchoge, 33, is considered (and rightfully so!) as the greatest marathon runner of the modern era.
15 years ago at the age of 18, Kipchoge won the U20 race at the World Cross-Country championships and with that win, he announced himself as a worthy challenger for the marathon majors.
Starting off his marathon career in 2013 with a victory at the Hamburg marathon, Kipchoge has an amazing record of winning 11 out of 12 marathons he has run so far (his only defeat being at Berlin in 2013).
The Berlin marathon is a happy hunting ground for Kipchoge who has now won the event thrice (2015, 2017 and 2018) in six years and after a dazzling finish to the race, Kipchoge was left speechless – “I lack words to describe this day,” he said. It did not matter. Kipchoge let his running for the talking on the streets of the German capital. Right from the start, Kipchoge’s only opponent was the clock.
Kipchoge ran at the front from the very first kilometre. He had just a few pacemakers for company and got through the first five kilometres in 14:24 and 10 kilometres in 29:01. A little after 15 kilometres, which was timed at 43:38, two out of the three pacemakers were unable to continue and had to withdraw from the race. Josphat Boit, the final pacemaker led Kipchoge through half-way point 1:01:06 before he dropped out at the 25-kilometre mark which was covered in 1:12:24.
For the remaining distance of 17 kilometres, Kipchoge was alone and at the 30km mark, he was 52 seconds ahead of world record pace and his hopes of breaking the world record suddenly became a real possibility. “It’s a breathless leap in the world of marathon running,” said one excited commentator as Kipchoge crossed the 40km in 1:55:32 – 50 seconds inside world record pace.
Many questioned Kipchoge’s ability to maintain his pace after losing his last pacemaker but Kipchoge believed and he finished the second half in 1:00:34 which propelled him to a new world record timing.
After such an astonishing run, mere mortals would have slumped over the line – Kipchoge however, leaped into the arms of Patrick Sang, who has been his coach and mentor since Kipchoge was a teenager. What a journey these two have had since then!
Apart from Kipchoge’s history-making run, Kenya claimed a podium sweep with Berlin debutant Amos Kipruto finishing second clocking 2:06:23 and former world-record holder Wilson Kipsang claiming the third spot with a timing of 2:06:48.
Evolution advocates athletic improvement happens in steady increments, but on rare occasions, someone like Eluid Kipchoge comes along and redefines what we thought was humanly possible.
No matter what happens, this race will in all likelihood go down as Kipchoge’s crowning moment, his very own marathon opus.