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He was so fast, he had time to celebrate long before the second-place runner arrived

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the line to win the Berlin Marathon in Berlin on Sunday.
Christoph Soeder
/
AP
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the line to win the Berlin Marathon in Berlin on Sunday.

Updated September 25, 2022 at 2:36 PM ET

BERLIN — Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge shaved 30 seconds off his previous world record set on the same course four years ago to finish the Berlin Marathon in 2:01:09 on Sunday.

"My legs and my body still feel young," the 37-year-old Kipchoge said. "But the most important thing is my mind, and that also feels fresh and young. I'm so happy to break the world record."

Ethiopia's Tigist Assefa unexpectedly won the women's race in a course record of 2:15:37 – 18 minutes faster than she had ever run before. It was the third fastest time ever.

"I wasn't afraid of my rivals, even though they had faster times than me," the 26-year-old Assefa said.

Kipchoge and Assefa's combined time of 4:16:46 ensured the marathon was the fastest ever. The men's record has now been set eight times in a row in Berlin, favored by runners for its flat course.

Kipchoge has long been dubbed the world's best marathon runner. In 2019, he ran a marathon in Vienna in under two hours, a milestone long thought impossible. The result wasn't official because he ran it under laboratory conditions, but the result made him an icon in and outside the running world.

Athletes run at the start of the Berlin Marathon in Berlin on Sunday.
Christoph Soeder / AP
/
AP
Athletes run at the start of the Berlin Marathon in Berlin on Sunday.

Kipchoge's world record run in Berlin was so dominant that, after he crossed the finish line, he had time to hug his trainer, friends, pose for photos, and wave the Kenyan flag before the second-place runner finished, four minutes and 49 seconds later.

Some 45,527 runners from 157 nations were registered to take part in the first Berlin Marathon without restrictions since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Material from The Associated Press was included in this report.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.