The Kenyan champion has slashed more than a minute off the previous marathon record, completing the Berlin race in 2 hours, 1 minute, 39 seconds, an average pace of 20.7 km/hour.

The old record had been held by another Kenyan runner, Dennis Kimetto, who set a mark of 2:02:57 back in 2014.

The 33-year-old Kipchoge was delirious with the result. “I lack words to describe this day,” he said after the race. “I am really grateful, happy to smash the world record.”

Kipchoge has been the dominant force in the men’s marathon in recent years, winning nine of his previous ten marathons. He is the Olympic champion and won his third London Marathon earlier this year.

“It was hard,” he said. “I ran my own race, I trusted my trainers, my programme and my coach. That’s what pushed me in the last kilometres.”

Remarkably, Kipchoge went slightly faster in the back half of the race, recording splits of 61.06 and then 60.33. Such a feat is known as recording ‘negative splits’.

Kipchoge’s feat likened to Usain Bolt’s 9.58 100m record

Athletics website said Kipchoge’s run “was a performance so far superior to anything we’ve seen before that comparing it to another marathon feels inadequate”. Instead, the website said it had to be compared to stupendous performances from other sports. “This was Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in basketball, Usain Bolt’s 9.58 in the 100-meter dash,” it concluded.

Conditions for the marathon were ideal; the day was windless and the temperature was mild, a contrast to last year’s event where rain made for a slow event.

After the race, Kipchoge humbly suggested fans lining the streets of Berlin and crowded around the Brandenburg Gates helped him achieve the record. “I want to say thank you to all the spectators from the first kilometre to the last kilometre,” he told a news conference. “They really pushed me. It was like having music in my ears.”

Kipchoge looked relaxed as he crossed the line and his form did not seem to have deteriorated at all, raising questions of whether he can go even faster.

The two-hour marathon has long been considered one of the most untouchable records in any sport, but it may now be within his sights.