Kelvin Kiptum sets new marathon world record in Chicago

Sports Monday 09/October/2023 11:22 AM
By: DW
Kelvin Kiptum sets new marathon world record in Chicago

It's not quite as round a number as the 2-hour barrier, but Kelvin Kiptum became the first ever runner to complete a marathon in less than 2 hours and 1 minute in Chicago on Sunday, setting a new marathon world record.

The Kenyan athlete shaved more than 30 seconds off the previous record, set by Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge — also from Kenya — at last year's Berlin Marathon.

Kiptum, who also shattered the course record at the London Marathon earlier this year, said after the race that he had not started the run with the world record time in mind. He did however realize he was close to the required pace to break it in the latter stages of the race.

"I feel so happy. I wasn't prepared," Kiptum said. "A world record was not in my mind today." 

Kiptum nevertheless reacted on seeing that he was almost on pace to break the record at around the three-quarters distance mark. He quickened his pace in the closing phases, running the second half of the marathon more than a minute faster than he had completed the first half, despite the increasing fatigue.

Kiptum finished the Chicago Marathon almost 3.5 minutes clear of the next runner, his Kenyan compatriot Benson Kipruto. Belgian Bashir Abdi finished third. 

It's the first marathon world record set in years on any course other than Berlin's. The city streets and the course around German capital are notoriously flat and kind on endurance runners, and the September weather tends to offer an ideal mixture of cool temperatures and low winds.

The race organizers, proud of its record-breaking tradition, also try to ensure that several strong runners act as so-called "rabbits," intentionally setting what for them is an unsustainably fast pace early in the race, pulling the real contenders along in their wake.

Kipchoge's latest record hailed from Berlin's 2022 marathon, and the one before that from the 2018 race. And in September this year, Ethiopia's Tigst Assefa set a new women's world marathon record in Germany.