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Tigst Assefa shatters marathon world record in Berlin

Tigst Assefa Berlin Marathon

Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa smiles after smashing the women’s marathon world record by crossing the finish line to win the women’s race of the Berlin Marathon on September 24, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP) (Photo by TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Ethiopian Tigst Assefa shattered the women’s marathon world record, clocking 2 hours, 11 minutes, 53 seconds to repeat as Berlin Marathon champion on Sunday.

Assefa took more than two minutes off Kenyan Brigid Kosgei’s world record of 2:14:04 from the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She won by nearly six minutes over Kenyan Sheila Chepkirui.

“That I broke the record with such a result was not expected for me, but in some form I wanted to break the record,” Assefa said through a translator.

Assefa came from nowhere to win last year’s Berlin Marathon in 2:15:37, then the third-fastest women’s time in history. Her lone marathon time before that was 2:34:01 (in a race that she ran while injured). Before that, she ran the 800m and was eliminated in the heats at the 2016 Rio Olympics.


This was Assefa’s third career marathon. She scratched before April’s London Marathon due to tendonitis, according to race organizers.

Berlin is known as the world’s fastest major marathon for its pancake-flat roads and usually optimal weather.

Also Sunday, Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge won his fifth Berlin title in 2:02:42, the eighth-fastest men’s time in history.

Kipchoge, who last year in Berlin lowered his world record by 30 seconds to 2:01:09, rebounded Sunday from a sixth-place finish in his previous marathon in Boston on April 17.

He flirted with world record pace — 1:00:22 at the halfway mark — before he slowed. He ran the final six miles alone.

“I was expecting to do the same [as in 2022], but it did not come as I expected, but that’s how sport is,” said Kipchoge, who prevailed by 91 seconds. “At the end of it, a little bit of hiccups, but it’s normal in the race.”

The 38-year-old also solidified his chances of being named to Kenya’s three-man team for the 2024 Paris Olympics, where he could become the first person to win three Olympic marathons.

His Olympic spot had been in some doubt after he was the fourth Kenyan in Boston, and, six days later, another Kenyan, Kelvin Kiptum, won London in the second-best time in history.

Kenyan officials have not announced whether they will name the Olympic team before or after the spring marathon season.

The fall major marathon season continues in Chicago on Oct. 8, featuring many contenders for the Feb. 3 U.S. Olympic Trials: Galen Rupp and Conner Mantz for the men and Emily Sisson, Emma Bates, Aliphine Tuliamuk, Molly Seidel and Des Linden for the women.