BERLIN (AP) — Tigst Assefa broke the women’s world record by more than two minutes Sunday at the Berlin Marathon, as Eliud Kipchoge won the men’s race for the fifth time but couldn’t break his own record.
Ethiopian runner Assefa, the winner in Berlin a year ago, ran the race in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 53 seconds to break the previous women’s record of 2:14:04 set by Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei at the Chicago Marathon in 2019.
Assefa sank to her knees after crossing the line and raised her arms, then celebrated with the flag of Ethiopia. She was nearly six minutes clear of any other runner in Sunday’s marathon, with Sheila Chepkirui of Kenya second in 2:17:49 and Tanzania’s Magdalena Shauri third in 2:18:41.
Assefa once specialized in shorter events on the track and competed in the heats of the 800 meters at the 2016 Olympics, but found much more success after switching to road running in recent years. She ran her first marathon in March 2022 in Riyadh before winning in Berlin in a course-record time of 2:15:37 last year.
The Berlin course is a favorite for runners chasing world records because of its flat terrain and cool weather. It’s seen a succession of men’s records tumble over the last two decades, but Assefa was the first to break the women’s world record in the German capital since 2001.
In the men’s event, Kipchoge ran alone from 32 kilometers (20 miles) onward after Ethiopia’s Derseh Kindie dropped away, but slowed slightly toward the end. His time of 2 hours, 2 minutes, 42 seconds was more than a minute and a half off the record he set in Berlin last year.
Kipchoge’s fellow Kenyan Vincent Kipkemoi was second in 2:03:13 with Tadese Takele of Ethiopia close behind in 2:03:24.
Kipchoge broke the two-hour barrier in Vienna in 2019 when he ran 1:59:40 but it was not officially considered the world record. He was running in an event that did not conform to regulations because it was tailored around his time, with groups of pacemakers and drinks delivered by a cyclist.
The German environmental group Last Generation had signaled it intended to disrupt the Berlin Marathon. Police and security personnel led away a group of Last Generation activists who entered the course from either side of the road and attempted to block the route shortly before the start of the race. Marathon runners passed streaks of bright orange paint that were splashed across the road during the protest.
Last Generation previously sprayed paint over the Brandenburg Gate last week. The popular landmark and symbol of Germany is located near the finish of the marathon course.