1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Berlin Marathon: Assefa smashes women's world record

Published September 24, 2023last updated September 24, 2023

Ethiopian Tigst Assefa admitted afterwards that she had targeted a new world record, though she surprised herself by just how much she would take off the previous best. Eliud Kipchoge won the men's race for a fifth time.

Tigist Assefa with the clock marking her new world record
Assefa started the marathon with a blistering pace and beat the previous record by more than two minutesImage: Markus Schreiber/AP/picture alliance

Ethiopia's Tigst Assefa broke the women's marathon world record in Berlin on Sunday, chopping off more than two minutes from the previous best to clock an official time of 2 hours 11 minutes and 53 seconds.

On a day of new records, Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to win five Berlin marathons.

Climate activists had threatened to disrupt the event by running onto the course with buckets of orange paint. However, police quickly intervened and the protesters were taken away, shortly before the race got underway.

Assefa: 'I didn't expect to run this fast'

Assefa slashed a massive 2:11 minutes off the previous women's world record of 2:14:04, set in 2019 by Kenyan Brigid Kosgei in Chicago.

She also improved her personal best by 3:44 minutes, which she ran in last year's marathon in the German capital.

Tigist Assefa holds a large beer after winning the Berlin Marathon
Hold my beer: Assefa raises aloft a large beverage to celebrate her victoryImage: Markus Schreiber/AP/picture alliance

"I didn't expect to run this fast, that is to say to break 2:12, but it is the result of hard work," the new world record holder admitted after the race.

Kenyan Sheila Chepkirui came in second, but was nearly six minutes behind the winner. Magdalena Shauri of Tanzania came third. A record eight women finished the race in under 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Five-star performance from Kipchoge

Kenyan Kipchoge also repeated his win from last year but was unable to improve upon his world record. The 38-year-old missed his previous best from Berlin 2022 by just over a minute and a half, with a time of  2 hours, 2 minutes, 42 seconds.

Debutants Vincent Kipkemoi of Kenya (2:03:13) and Tadase Takele of Ethiopia (2:03:24) came second and third respectively.

Eliud Kipchoge celebrating his Berlin Marathon victory
No one has won more men's Berlin Marathons than KipchogeImage: Markus Schreiber/AP/picture alliance

Kipchoge now stands alone as the man with the most Berlin Marathon victories, moving one ahead of the Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie who won four consecutive races in the German capital between 2006 and 2009. Kipchoge's wins have come in 2015, 2017, 2018, 2022 and now in this year's race.

"I always learn from every race and every victory. I'm very happy to win for the fifth time in Berlin," Kipchoge said.

Last Generation attempts foiled

The environmental group Last Generation had signaled its intent to disrupt the event, having performed similar stunts with paint in the past. Police and security personnel led away a group of Last Generation activists who entered the course from either side of the road as they tried to block the route shortly before the start of the event. Marathon runners passed streaks of bright orange paint that activists had splashed across the road.

Marathon runners pass through the orange paint
Other than the splattering of paint, the race was not affected by the environmental protestersImage: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa/picture alliance

Last week, the environmental group sprayed paint over the Brandenburg Gate. The popular landmark and symbol of Germany is located near the finish of the marathon course.

On Saturday, the marathon organizer warned Last Generation activists against disrupting the event.

Jürgen Lock, the managing director of SCC events, a group that is in charge of the marathon, said he hoped "nothing untoward happens in terms of a demonstration, but we have plans for such eventualities."

Lock told reporters they were looking "forward to an enjoyable and peaceful weekend of sport" and asked demonstrators "not to interfere with the events themselves."

jsi/nm (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)