He became the first man to run under 2hr 03min and his time was well inside the previous record of 2:03:23, set over the same course last year by his compatriot Wilson Kipsang.
“I feel good because I won a very tough race,” Kimetto told reporters. “I felt good from the start and in the last few miles I felt I could do it and break the record.”
Kimetto, 30, is from the Eldoret in Kenya’s Rift Valley region — a part of the country that has produced some of the most dominant distance runners in history.
With temperatures around eight degrees Celsius at the start, Kimetto was among the leaders from the gun and a seven-man group formed at the front of the race just before the halfway point.
The pacemakers kept up the tempo with the world record as the target but at 30km, reached in 1:27:37, the racing started in earnest between a three-man leading group consisting of Kimetto, Mutai and Geoffrey Kamworor, who started to put day light among themselves and the rest of the field.
Kamworor was the first to fold, starting to struggle from 33 kilometres onwards and eventually finishing four in 2:06:39.
Mutai twice attempted to attack but Kimetto stayed strong and never let the gap grow to more than a few metres and the pair passed 35km in 1:41:47. After making his move just before 38km, Kimetto then passed 40km in 1:56:29, exactly the same spilt as Kimetto had en route to winning at the Chicago Marathon last October.
In contrast to that race almost 12 months ago, when Kimetto weakened slightly and the world record slipped form his grap by 22 seconds, this time there was no denying him.
His performance in the German capital also bettered the fastest time ever achieved on any marathon course, surpassing the 2:03:02 clocked by fellow Kenyan and mentor Geoffrey Mutai in 2011 on Boston’s record-ineligible point-to-point course.
He was working as a farmer in an impoverished rural area before he took up running in his mid-20’s, joining the training group of Mutai — a Boston, Berlin and two-time New York marathon champion and the former holder of the unofficial world best, a 2:03.02 set in Boston.
His first major win came in Nairobi’s Half Marathon in 2011, and he went on to finish second behind his training partner Mutai in the Berlin Marathon in 2012.
His 2:04.16 was the fastest marathon debut in history, and notable as he is one of a new breed of Kenyan road racers who do not have a track pedigree.
In 2013 he won the Tokyo Marathon, setting a course record of 2:06.50, and then the 2013 Chicago Marathon in a course record of 2:03.45 — where he also beat Emmanuel Mutai into second place.
1. Dennis Kimetto (KEN) 2hr 02min 57sec (world record), 2. Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) 2:03:13, 3. Abera Kuma (ETH) 2:05:56, 4. Geoffrey Kamworor (KEN) 2:06:39, 5. Eliud Kiptanui (KEN) 2:07:28, 6. Frankline Chepkwony (KEN) 2:07:35, 7. Levy Matebo (KEN) 2:08:33, 8. Maswai Kiptanui (KEN) 2:10:18, 9. Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) 2:10:27, 10. Kazuki Tomaru (JAP) 2:11:25
1. Tirfi Tsegaye (ETH) 2:20:18, 2. Feyse Tadese (ETH) 2:20:27, 3. Shalane Flanagan (USA) 2:21:14, 4. Tadelech Bekele (ETH) 2:23:02, 5. Abedech Afework (ETH) 2:25:02, 6. Kayoko Fukushi (JAP) 2:26:25, 7. Anna Hahner (GER) 2:26:44, 8. Ines Melchor (PER) 2:26:48