Marathon World Record Broken – 2:03:38 by Patrick Makau

Berlin 2011: Magnificent Makau 2:03:38!

By The Science of Sport’s Dr. Ross Tucker & Dr. Jonathan Dugas

Patrick Makau has broken the world marathon record. He raced to a 2:03:38 on the streets of Berlin, breaking Gebrselassie’s world record by 21 seconds. It was a terrible day for the Ethiopian emperor – he stepped off the road soon after Makau launched a big surge at around 27km, and while he did resume running, he was not a factor and it seems that he bailed some time later.

The questions will begin again – it is Geb’s second DNF if two marathons, after New York. On that occasion, he retired, and questions will now be asked again. It’s a sad way to go if it’s true – two DNFs and the loss of his world record.

But today, it was Makau all the way. Below are the splits (for the men – I lost track of the women’s race as the men’s world record became more and more apparent), and my comments as the race unfolded.

I’m working on a more detailed analysis of the pacing, and comparing Makau to the 2008 World Record by Geb. Give me one hour and check in for that comparison!

But briefly, halfway was reached in 61:45, which projects a 2:03:30, and that was more or less the pace from the start. Makau and Geb were in the group, 11 strong, until around 25km when things began to fragment. That’s when Makau, perhaps sensing a weakness is Geb, pushed the pace, and under the pressure of his surge, Gebrselassie stepped off the road. He seemed to be clutching his stomach – it was either a stitch, stomach cramp, or maybe asthma. We’ll find out later.

But the pace of the Makau surge was brutal – 14:20 for the 5km segment from 25km to 30km, and that’s what took Makau from being in with a shout to having a real shot at it. He did pay for that surge later in the race, and when we compare the splits later, you’ll see that Makau got slower and slower from that point onwards.

Read Ross and Jonathan’s full race report including blow by blow race coverage

Inside Patrick Makau’s world record. A more in depth look

Men Women
5km – 14:36 (2:03:13 pace) 5km – 16:37 (2:20:14)
10km – 29:17 (2:03:34) 10km – 33:16 (2:20:22)
15km – 43:51 (2:03:21) 15km – 49:50 (2:20:11)
20km – 58:30 (2:03:25) 20km – 1:06:32 (2:20:22)
Half-marathon – 61:43 (2:03:26) Half-marathon – 1:10:11 (2:20:22)
25km – 1:13:18 (2:03:43) 25km – 1:23:15 (2:20:31)
30km – 1:27:38 (2:03:15)
35km – 1:42:16 (2:03:17)
40km – 1:57:15 (3:03:41)
Finish – 2:03:38 Finish – 2:19:44




Karl Hayes

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.