27 Sep

Brisk Berlin

Last weekend saw the world’s undisputed No.1 marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge triumph in Berlin. His – and the race organisers’ – ultimate goal was to break the world record.

But wet conditions dampened his attempt and he had to settle for victory in 2:03:32, just over 30 seconds outside of fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto’s world leading time also in the German capital three years ago.

Kipchoge and Kimetto were drawn to Berlin, scene of seven of the fastest men’s marathon times ever, just as thousands of other runners were to try and run their fastest time.

But what is it that has made Berlin so quick? The event has a colourful history, launching in 1974 with less than 300 runners racing through woods. It moved to the streets in 1981, the year of the first London Marathon.

It attracts runners from far and wide for its sheer flatness. It also has relatively few corners in comparison to London - also regarded as a fast course.  The course is also on a largely asphalt surface, thought to be more forgiving on joints than typical concrete.

And, despite Sunday’s rain, the event has benefitted from perfect weather conditions in recent years. Like Kipchoge, Berlin in Autumn is cool and calm.

Boston is another course that is regarded as supremely quick. A race with a rich 120 year history, it is sadly not valid for world or national records due to the course profile which drops around 140m from start to finish.

London is also very flat, dropping just 30m but with plenty of twists and turns through the English capital. Kipchoge’s time was still the fastest marathon in 2017 and puts him sixth on the all-time list. So, if you are hunting a PB, then Berlin is the champion’s choice of course.