Regarded as a follower early in his young career, Patrick Makau surged to the front of the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, dropped the venerable Haile Gebrselassie and set a new marathon record, 2:03:38.
The 26-year-old Kenyan established himself as a favorite in the 2012 Olympics in London.
Gebrselassie had set the previous world marathon record, 2:03:59 in Berlin, but dropped out of the race after Makau's surge. At 38, his reign of dominance in the sport may be coming to an end.
“A new generation is coming that is running very well,” said Makau, who averaged 4:43 a mile and shaved 70 seconds off his previous best, 2:04:48, which was run at the 2010 Rotterdam Marathon.
Running Times magazine recounts Makau's decisive move at mile 18 and the mind-set he carried to the start line.
"This morning, I did not think about the world record, but I prayed to my God first of all to win the race,” he said. “From after halfway, I was using tactics, running zigzags, to use the energy of the other runners. Gebrselassie was always following me, so I went to the side of the road, then the other side, and he kept following. Then when I went to the other side again, he was tired.”
Makau's time was 36 seconds off the world's marathon best, the 2:03:02 that Geoffrey Mutai ran in the 2011 Boston Marathon. The point-to-point course, and the loss of elevation in Boston precludes that course from world record consideration.
A similar point-to-point lay-out for the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon also eliminates any chance of a world record being set in the 31st annual race on Sunday.