Athletics: Bekele wins Berlin marathon but is off world mark by 6sec, Kipsang second

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele celebrates winning the 43rd Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany on Sept 25, 2016.
Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele celebrates winning the 43rd Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany on Sept 25, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

BERLIN (AFP) - Kenenisa Bekele admitted that he was disappointed to have missed the world record by six seconds on Sunday, as the Ethiopian won the Berlin marathon ahead of former winner Wilson Kipsang.

The ex-Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion crossed the finish line in an official time of 2hr 3min 3sec - just short of Dennis Kimetto's world record of 2:02:57 set here in 2014.

The 34-year-old Bekele's time was an Ethiopian national record and he took two minutes off his personal best.

"It went according to plan," said Bekele, who finished third at this year's London marathon.

"I wanted to beat my personal best. I ran a fantastic time, but I'm just a little disappointed to miss the world record by a few seconds."

Bekele pocketed €70,000 (S$107,000) for winning the race, but those six seconds cost him the €50,000 bonus he would have landed had the world record fallen.

Kipsang, also 34, who won the 2013 Berlin Marathon in a then-world record time, finished 10seconds back in 2:03:13 and fellow Kenyan Evans Chebet took third in 2:05:31.

"I am happy to have run a personal best and he (Bekele) ran a fantastic race," said Kipsang, who ran 10 seconds faster than the 2:03:23 then-world record he ran here three years ago.

"I am also a bit disappointed to have missed the world record, but I have to congratulate him.

"We will have to come back and try again for the world record next year."

Bekele ran the second fastest time ever and Kipsang's time was the fourth fastest.

The men's world record has fallen seven times in Berlin, six times since 2003.

This was another fast race over 42km, the relatively flat course lacking the cobblestones of London and the bridges of the New York courses.

Bekele and Kipsang led an elite group of seven runners, which was ahead of the world record pace at the halfway stage and Kipsang made his move at the 30km stage.

He reached the 35km mark in 1:41:56 - exactly on the world-record pace - with Bekele trailing just behind, but the Ethiopian caught the Kenyan with three kilometres to go.

Bekele pulled clear of Kipsang as the pair headed towards the finish just past Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate.

In the women's race, Aberu Kebede, claimed her third Berlin win, in 2:20:45 ahead of Birhane Dibaba, who finished 3:13 minutes back, and Ruti Aga at 3:57 in an Ethiopian sweep.