Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge staved off a surprise challenge from Ethiopian debutant Guye Adola to win an enthralling Berlin marathon on Sunday (September 24), but missed out on his bid to set a new world record.
Prior to the race, Kipchoge, fellow Kenyan Wilson Kipsang and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele had all set their sights on breaking Dennis Kimetto’s leading marathon mark of two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds along the flat, inner-city course.
But Bekele dropped away from the leaders just after the half-way mark and then Kipsang walked off the course after 30kms.
At the front, Kipchoge became embroiled in a classic tussle with the 26-year-old Adola, making his marathon debut.
First they ran together then Adola attempted to upstage the favourite with an audacious bid to break clear after 37km but Kipchoge kept his cool and caught back up with the Ethiopian four minutes later.
Olympic champion Kipchoge needed until the 41st kilometre of the damp course to shake off his last surviving rival and cross the line in 2:03:32.
Adola finished 14 seconds adrift of the winner, with his Ethiopian compatriot Mosinet Geremew finishing third in 2:06:09.
Kipchoge’s victory was his second in Berlin and Gladys Cherono helped recreate the roll of honour from 2015, with the Kenyan winning the women’s race in 2:20:23 to also record a second win in the event.