“My legs and my body still feel young,” said Kipchoge, 37. “But the most important thing is my mind, and it also feels fresh and young.”

BERLIN, Germany – He’s done it again.

Two-time Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge improved his own world record in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday.

The Kenyan star clocked 2hrs 1min 9secs to shave 30 seconds off his previous best of 2:01:39 set on the same course in 2018.

“My legs and my body still feel young,” said Kipchoge, 37. “But the most important thing is my mind, and it also feels fresh and young. I am very happy to break the world record.”

Tigist Assefa of Ethiopia unexpectedly won the women’s race with a distance record of 2:15:37 – 18 minutes faster than ever before. It was the third fastest time ever.

“I wasn’t afraid of my rivals, even though they had a faster time than me,” said Asefa, 26.

Kenya’s Rosemary Wanjiru finished second in her debut in 2:18:00 – the second fastest ever – just ahead of Ethiopia’s Tigist Abayechev in 2:18:03.

Kipchoge and Asefa’s combined time of 4:16:46 ensured that the marathon was the fastest ever. The men’s record has been set eight times in a row in Berlin, a favorite of runners because of the flat course.

This is Kipchoge’s fourth win in the city, equaling the record held by Haile Gebrselassie. The Ethiopian giant, like Kipchoge now, also set two world records (in 2007 and 2008) in Berlin.

The German capital had ideal conditions for fast racing – cool, around 52 degrees (11 degrees Celsius) after overnight showers, with no precipitation and no wind. Some 45,527 runners from 157 countries have been registered to take part in the first Berlin Marathon without restrictions since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of participants was almost halved due to strict restrictions last year, and the 2020 race was canceled due to the pandemic.

Kipchoge set a blistering pace on Sunday, covering the first 10km in just 28:23 and clocking 42:32 at the 15k mark, hinting at a sub-two hour attempt. He broke the two-hour barrier in Vienna in 2019 when he ran 1:59:40 in a non-regular race.

Defending champion Gaye Adola and Ethiopian compatriot Andamlak Belih initially managed to keep up, but Adola fell back a few meters as Kipchoge covered the kilometers between 2:47 and 2:50.

Kipchoge and Belihu completed the half marathon in just 59:51. Adola and Kenyan runners Abel Kipchumba, Mark Korir and Betwell Egon followed in 1:01:25.

“I planned to come out fast in the first half,” Kipchoge said.

The last pacemaker went off at the 25k mark, leaving Kipchoge alone, but Belihu stayed behind.

Kipchoge slowed down a bit, reaching the 30k mark in 1:25:40. Belihu couldn’t keep up and fell 21 seconds behind before pulling back even further.

At this stage it was just a matter of whether Kipchoge would break his own record. He did.

Countryman Mark Korir was second, nearly five minutes behind, followed by Ethiopian runner Tadu Abate. Belihu, who has been with Kipchoge the longest, finished fourth in 2:06:40.