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Kipsang smashes marathon record in Berlin win

Spectators watch as runners compete in the 40th Berlin marathon, September 29, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz
Spectators watch as runners compete in the 40th Berlin marathon, September 29, 2013. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

(Reuters) - Kenyan Wilson Kipsang made the most of the notoriously flat and fast Berlin streets to smash the marathon world record by 15 seconds en route to taking the title on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Kipsang clocked a time of two hours, three minutes and 23 seconds to better the previous mark set two years ago in the same race by compatriot Patrick Makau, who was forced to pull out through injury two weeks ago.

Kipsang, who won the 2012 London Marathon and also took bronze at the Olympics, produced a storming finish to leave compatriot Eliud Kipchoge a distant second almost a minute behind.

"I'm very happy that I have won and broken the world record," Kipsang said in a televised interview after the race.

"I was really inspired by Paul Tergat when he broke the world record here 10 years ago and I'm very happy that I was in a position to break the record on the same course."

Kenyan Tergat's time of 2:04:55 at the 2003 Berlin Marathon was the first to be ratified as a world record by governing body the IAAF, who previously recognized fastest marathon times as world bests.

Makau's mark had looked safe as the leading bunch dropped more than 20 seconds off the pace after 30 kilometers but they clawed back the deficit over the next five kilometers.

With the group whittled down to three runners, Kipsang made his decisive move at the 37 km mark and held off former 5,000 meters world champion Kipchoge before pulling well clear in the final two kilometers on the fastest of the big city courses.

Kipchoge's time of 2:04:05 was a personal best with Geoffrey Kipsang third in 2:06:26.

FASTER STILL

It was the ninth world record at the race - which celebrated its 40th running on Sunday - and fifth by the men in the last decade.

Despite running under cool and sunny skies, Kipsang said calmer conditions could have produced an ever quicker time.

"If I prepare very well and stay in shape then maybe," he said when asked if he could better the mark. "Today there was a lot of wind... but if the wind would have been a little bit then it (the time) would come down."

Nevertheless, the victory boosted Kipsang's chances of winning the world marathon majors series which awards points during a two-year cycle from finishing positions in the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York marathons.

He will move up to second behind Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede in the race to win a cut of the million dollar jackpot split between the men's and women's winners.

In the women's race, Kenya's Florence Kiplagat took the title after she overcame a duel with compatriot Sharon Cherop, who faded to finish 45 seconds back.

Kiplagat repeated her 2011 success in Berlin with another strong run but her time of 2:21:13 was six minutes shy of the women's world record set by Briton Paula Radcliffe a decade ago.

Germany's Irina Mikitenko was third in 2:24:54, breaking the world masters record for over 40s.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)

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