Ethiopia’s Guye Adola won the men’s Berlin Marathon on Sunday with compatriot Kenenisa Bekele, a two-time former winner in Germany’s capital, finishing third as his bid to break the world record fell short.
Adola won in an official time of two hours, five minutes, 45 seconds — well short of Eliud Kipchoge’s world record 2:01:39 set in the German capital three years ago — with Kenya’s Bethwel Yegon 29 seconds behind in second.
Bekele, the 2016 and 2019 winner in Berlin, had been attempting to break his personal best when he came within two agonising seconds of Kipchoge’s time two years ago, but ended up settling for third as he finished one minute, two seconds behind Adola.
“The race started off really fast, the leading pack couldn’t maintain that pace, so I took my chance to hit the front,” said Adola after his victory.
The race over 42.195 kilometres (26.2 miles) through the streets of Berlin was the first of the world’s major six marathons to take place with elite athletes and a mass field of runners — estimated at around 25,000 — since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Adola, 30, celebrated the first major marathon win of his career having finished second to Kipchoge in Berlin four years ago on his debut over the marathon distance.
It was an impressive display from Yegon, who had briefly led in the later stages before fading, but he knocked more than two minutes off his previous best marathon time, when he finished eighth in Berlin two years ago.
The lead pack, spearheaded by Bekele, set off at a lightning speed, 25 seconds under Kipchoge’s world record pace after 15kms.
Bekele dropped back from the lead pack, but still stayed on course to run a new world record through the halfway stage.
The warm temperature of 20 degrees Celsius and the brutal tempo took their toll as the pace setters dropped off and the lead runners were 22 seconds behind world record pace at the 25km stage, just over halfway.
With seven kilometres to go, Adola, 30, opened a three seconds gap ahead of Bekele, 39, who was also passed by Yegon.
The Kenyan briefly hit the front, but Adola attacked and retook the lead as they came within sight of the iconic Brandenburg Gate, just before the finish line.