The ex-Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion crossed the finish line in an unofficial time of two hours 03min 04sec — just short of Dennis Kimetto's world record of 2:02:57 set here in 2014. Bekele's time was an Ethiopian national record.
Kipsang, who won the 2013 Berlin Marathon in a then-world record time, finished just nine seconds back and Kenya's Evans Chebet took third with 2:05:31.
Bekele ran the second fastest time ever, just seven seconds away from Kimetto's record, and Kipsang's time was the fourth fastest. The men's world record has fallen seven times in Berlin, six times since
This was another fast race over 42km, the relatively flat course lacking the cobblestones of London and the bridges of the New York courses. Kipsang reached the 35km mark in 1:41:56 – exactly on the world record pace
– with Bekele trailing just behind him, but the Ethiopian caught the Kenyan with three kilometres to go.
Bekele made his move in the dying stages of the race, pulling clear of Kipsang as the pair headed towards the finish just past Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate.