If you like to stay up-to-date with the elite running scene, you probably know that fall marathons are often where the world’s fastest marathon runners lay down some impressive marathon finish times.
Between the Berlin, Chicago, and New York City Marathon, three of the six biggest marathons in the world (all Abbott World Marathon Majors) provide an exciting showcase to see the fastest marathoners not only vie for glory but also potentially set a new marathon world record.
On September 24, 2023, we saw arguably the world’s fastest marathon runner, Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, defend his title and win a record five times on the famously flat and fast course in the German capital city.
At the time of the race, Kipchoge was the current men’s marathon world record holder, having set the world record for the marathon distance the prior year at the 2022 Berlin Marathon, where he ran 2:01:09.
The Berlin Marathon has been the site of the previous eight men’s marathon world records.
Therefore, many runners and fans assumed the chances of setting a new men’s marathon world record this year were next to none after Kipchoge hung up his racing shoes for now (until the 2024 Olympic Marathon in Paris).
However, fellow Kenyan compatriot marathon runner Kelvin Kiptum shocked many people when he shattered the men’s marathon world record, not just beating Eliud Kipchoge’s time (by default) but also setting the new marathon world record for men at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 8, 2023.
In this article, we discuss the new men’s marathon world record and give you a detailed analysis of Kelvin Kiptum’s marathon world record performance at the 2023 Chicago Marathon.
The New Marathon World Record For Men (2023)
While the Chicago Marathon course is notoriously flat and fast like Berlin, the windy nature of the Chicago streets doesn’t always lend to setting world-record marathon times.That didn’t stop 23-year-old Kiptum from winning the 2023 Chicago Marathon and breaking Kipchoge‘s existing marathon world record for men in the process.
So, exactly how fast is Kelvin Kiptum’s marathon world record for men?
Kiptum ran 2:00:35 for the full 26.2-mile marathon to set the new men’s marathon world record.
But, how does Kiptum’s 2:00:35 stack up against Eliud Kipchoge’s previous marathon world record, and what were Kelvin Kiptum’s Chicago Marathon splits that took him over the finish line in a world record marathon time?
Who Is Kelvin Kiptum?
Unlike Eliud Kipchoge, who has truly become a household name and is largely thought to be the fastest marathon runner in the world with a strong command of the marathon distance for the past decade, Kelvin Kiptum is in the relatively nascent stages of his marathon career.
At only 23 years old, compared to Kipchoge’s 39 years of age, Kiptum is both chronologically young and also relatively “young“ in terms of professional marathon experience.
In fact, the 2023 Chicago Marathon on October 8, 2023, was only Kiptum’s third full marathon race.
In contrast, the 2023 Berlin Marathon was not only Eliud Kipchoge’s sixth time racing that exact course in Berlin but also his 19th marathon in his running career.
Both Kipchoge and Kiptum are from Kenya, an East African nation known for producing some of the fastest marathon runners in the world.
While Kiptum’s 2023 Chicago Marathon victory and men’s marathon world record-setting performance may have only been his third attempt at the 26.2-mile distance, anyone who takes a detailed look at the elite and professional running scene should not have been sleeping on Kiptum as a potential threat to break Kipchoge’s marathon world record.
After all, Kelvin Kiptum set the fastest marathon debut time (2:01:53) in his first race at the distance at the 2022 Valencia Marathon, finishing in 2:01:53.
For context, this was faster than Eliud Kipchoge’s winning time at this year’s Berlin Marathon, which was 2:02:42.
Kiptum then won the 2023 London Marathon in April this year, running 2:01:25, which was just 16 seconds off Kipchoge’s marathon world record time at the time and the second fastest marathon time ever.
Plus, for anyone who remembers the 2023 London Marathon, race conditions were notably wet and rainy, not ideal for running a world record.
All this is to say, if anyone was going to be able to challenge Kipchoge’s dominance at the marathon distance, it would be Kelvin Kiptum.
Analyzing Kelvin Kiptum’s Marathon World Record Splits
Kelvin Kiptum’s new men’s marathon world record time of 2:00:35 broke Kipchoge’s marathon world record time (2:01:09) by a full 34 seconds.
Of note, when Eliud Kipchoge ran 2:01:09 at the 2022 Berlin Marathon to set the men’s marathon world record, he broke his own marathon world record by 30 seconds (it had been 2:01:39, which Kipchoge set at the 2019 Berlin Marathon).
In the 2023 Chicago Marathon, Kiptum’s average marathon pace was around 4:36 min/mile or 2:51 min/km compared to Kipchoge’s pace of 4:37.4 min/mile or 2:52 min/km at the 2022 Berlin Marathon when he ran 2:01:09.
The average paces only tell part of the story of how each of these men’s marathon world record races unfolded.
Kipchoge’s race strategy was to go out hard and hang on to close the race as fast as possible—running fairly even splits.
In his short marathon career thus far, Kelvin Kiptum has established himself to be a strong closer, running negative splits—a faster second half of the race.
Kiptum started the race slower than Kipchoge’s prior marathon record pace, cruising through the first 5k split in 14:26, which was 12 seconds slower than Kipchoge’s 5k split (14:14) when he set the world record in Berlin in 2022.
Kiptum continued to be behind Kipchoge’s marathon world record pace at the 10k mark, widening the deficit to 19 seconds (Kiptum’s 28:42 10k split vs Kipchoge’s 28:23 when he set the marathon world record).
If you compare Kelvin Kiptum’s 5k splits vs Kipchoge’s 5k splits, we see that Kiptum was ultimately slower for each 5k relative to Kipchoge until right around the 25km mark; after that, Kiptum ran faster and faster, and notably faster than Kipchoge did at the 2022 Berlin Marathon.
The table below compares Kelvin Kiptum’s Chicago Marathon splits with Eliud Kipchoge’s 2022 Berlin Marathon splits to show the differences in the men’s marathon world record performances side by side.
Kiptum vs Kipchoge Marathon World Record Splits
|Marathon Split||Kelvin Kiptum’s 5k Split Times||Eliud Kipchoge’s 5k Split Times||Kiptum’s Time Off World Record Pace||Kelvin Kiptum’s Total Time||Eliud Kipchoge’s Total Time|
|5 km||14:26||14:14||-13 seconds||14:26||14:14|
|10 km||14:16||14:09||-7 seconds||28:42||28:23|
|15 km||14:27||14:10||-17 seconds||43:09||42:33|
|20 km||14:30||14:12||-18 seconds||57:09||56:45|
|25 km||14:25||14:23||-2 seconds||1:12:04||1:11:08|
|30 km||14:27||14:32||+5 seconds||1:26:31||1:25:40|
|35 km||13:51||14:30||+39 seconds||1:40:22||1:40:10|
|40 km||14:01||14:43||+42 seconds||1:54:23||1:54:53|
|42.195 km||6:12||6:16||+4 seconds||2:00:35||2:01:09|
Kiptum’s 5k split from the 30k to 35k at the 2023 Chicago Marathon was a full 39 seconds faster than Kipchoge’s 5k split at that point in the race when he had set the previous marathon world record.
This gap grew for the next 5k split to the 40k mark and continued through a strong finish as Kelvin Kiptum shattered the marathon world record.
Ultimately, when we compare Kipchoge vs Kiptum’s marathon world record splits, we see Kipchoge’s 2022 marathon world record was run at a fairly consistent pace, whereas Kiptum’s ability to break the world record came from a winning marathon race strategy of running negative splits.
Many people credit Kiptum’s shoes as contributing to setting the men’s marathon world record, but clearly, shoe technology aside, the 23-year-old has a promising marathon career ahead!
Do you think Kiptum’s pace strategy is good enough to help him break 2:00 in a world-record-legal race?
Learn more about race strategies and pacing here.