Berlin, Germany – The 2023 Berlin Marathon held on Sunday witnessed historic achievements and a Swiss sweep in the wheelchair races. With ideal weather conditions and a fast course, the event was a showcase of athletic excellence.
Tigist Assefa Shatters World Record
In a breathtaking display of talent, Tigist Assefa, the 29-year-old Ethiopian, made her mark in her third-ever marathon, setting a new world record with a staggering time of 2:11:53. Assefa’s performance sliced over two minutes off the previous record held by Brigid Kosgei since 2019, firmly establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with in the marathon world.
Assefa took an aggressive approach, breaking away from the competition at the 15K mark and extending her lead with every stride. She reached the halfway point in 1:06:20 and continued to dominate, eventually finishing almost four minutes ahead of the second-place runner, Sheila Chepkirui, who completed the race in 2:17:49. Magdalena Shauri secured third place with a time of 2:18:41.
This remarkable feat follows Assefa’s impressive progress in recent years, beginning with her marathon debut in March 2022 in Saudi Arabia, where she clocked 2:34:01. Her breakout moment came at the Berlin Marathon last year when she triumphed with a time of 2:15:37. For this year’s race, Assefa sported Adidas’s latest super shoe, the Adizero Adios Pro Evo 1.
Annie Frisbie emerged as the top American woman, securing 17th place with a time of 2:27:02, closely followed by Jacqueline Gaughan in 2:27:08, who set a personal record by over four minutes. Jane Bareikis rounded out the American women’s performance with a time of 2:29:00, finishing 21st.
Kipchoge Wins, but Misses World Record
Eliud Kipchoge, the legendary Kenyan marathoner, set out to break his own world record of 2:01:09 from the previous year’s Berlin Marathon. Kipchoge maintained a blistering pace throughout the first half of the race, even threatening the elusive 2-hour barrier. However, he couldn’t sustain the pace and ultimately finished in 2:02:42, marking his fifth victory in Berlin and the eighth-fastest marathon time in history.
Derseh Kindie of Ethiopia was the only runner to keep pace with Kipchoge, but he eventually dropped out of the race at 31K. Vincent Kipkemoi secured second place with a time of 2:03:13, while Tadese Takele claimed third place in 2:03:24.
Teshome Mekonen, who recently gained U.S. citizenship, was the top American male finisher with a time of 2:10:16, placing 24th. Jared Ward, a 2016 Olympian, followed as the second American in 2:11:44.
Swiss Domination in Wheelchair Races
Switzerland dominated the wheelchair races at the Berlin Marathon, with Marcel Hug securing his eighth victory with a time of 1:23:07. Hug, nicknamed the “Silver Bullet,” left Daniel Romanchuk of the United States in second place, who finished in 1:30:16. In the women’s wheelchair race, Catherine Debrunner of Switzerland clinched the title in a closely contested race, crossing the finish line in 1:34:16, just one second ahead of Eden Cooper. Manuela Schär, also from Switzerland, secured third place.
FloTrack’s Disappointing Coverage
For American viewers, the Berlin Marathon was marred by subpar coverage from FloTrack, the streaming platform that held the broadcast rights in the U.S. The event lacked commentary, featuring only muted crowd noise, leaving viewers frustrated.
Despite the premium price of $29.99 per month or $149.99 annually, viewers were left disappointed, echoing concerns from earlier this year when FloTrack experienced streaming issues during the London Marathon. Fans are calling for improved coverage and production quality to match the caliber of the athletes and the significance of these marquee races.