Tigist Assefa Shatters the World Record at the 2023 Berlin Marathon

The runner from Ethiopia clocked a time of 2:11:53 to take over two minutes off the previous record.

marathon ger berlin women


Ethiopia’s Tigist Assefa, the surprise winner of the women’s race at last year’s Berlin Marathon, shocked the world yet again, running 2:11:53 to break the women’s world record by more than 2 minutes. The mark obliterates Brigid Kosgei’s 2:14:04, set in Chicago in 2019.

It was only Assefa’s third marathon, and the 29-year-old former 800-metre runner took the lead by 15K, at the front of a group of 12 women who were all on world-record pace. She ran the 16th kilometre in 2:59, opening a gap. By 20K, she was 30 seconds ahead of Kenya’s Sheila Chepkirui.

Aided by male pacemakers and near-perfect conditions—the weather was partly cloudy and 14 degrees at the start—Assefa passed the halfway mark in 1:06:20, a 5:04 pace, and 40 seconds ahead of the 1:06:59 Kosgei split during her record-breaking run in Chicago. And she continued picking up speed, running a 1:05:33 second half (a 5-minute pace). 

In the end, Assefa crossed the line nearly 6 minutes before her next competitor—Chepkirui was second in 2:17:49—and almost 4 minutes faster than her course record of 2:15:37 from last year. Tanzania’s Magdalena Shauri was third in 2:18:41. In total, eight women finished under the 2:20 mark. Annie Frisbie was the first American, running 2:27:02 to place 17th.

tigist assefa, berlin 2023

Kevin Morris

On the broadcast afterward, Assefa called her victory “the result of hard work,” and said that while she thought she could break the record, the margin by which she did so surprised even her.

Assefa wore the ADIZERO Adios Pro Evo 1 by adidas on Sunday.Before an Achilles injury caused her to move to the roads, Assefa was a middle-distance runner, representing Ethiopia in the 800 metres at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Since winning Berlin last year, she’d raced only once, winning the Bahrain Royal Night Half Marathon in 1:07:40 in December. She was slated to run the London Marathon, but withdrew because of injury.

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