Haile Gebrselassie raised the bar of his already distinguished career by taking his own world marathon record under two hours four minutes for the first time in Berlin this morning.

Gebrselassie put in an astonishing performance to run 2hr 3min 59secs in a showing that will rank alongside two Olympic and four world championship 10,000metre gold medals and numerous other world records he has claimed during his 15 year international career.

And, amazingly, the 35-year-old believes he - and others - can shave even more time off his new record.

'I can run 2hr 3min 30sec or something like that. It is possible, but now I'm running against my age as well,' said the Ethiopian after his fantastic feat.

'This is just a record and tomorrow someone can break it. There are so many good runners and I suppose I will just have to run faster.'

Gebrselassie powered away from his only remaining rival, James Kwambai, in the last six kilometres to claim the Berlin title for the third successive year in emphatic fashion.

Relishing the perfect weather conditions and pacemaking assistance, he roared to the line as massive crowds applauded his phenomenal display in the German capital, smashing his previous record of 2:4.26 set 12 months ago.

Kwambai was also a revelation as he lowered his personal best by over five minutes to a time of 2:5.36 with Charles Kamathi, his fellow Kenyan, taking third in 2:7.48.

'This race was fantastic even compared to last year,' said Gebrselassie. ‘What can you say? The pacemaking from the beginning to the end was perfect and I have never seen weather like this.

'It just happens once in a lifetime.'

Irina Mikitenko, who missed the Olympic marathon with a back injury, atoned for that disappointment when becoming the first German winner of the women's race since Utta Pippig in 1995.

The 36-year-old added another success to her win last April in the Flora London Marathon, clocked in with a time of 2:19.19.

The Kazakhstan-born star may have missed the three-year-old course record by just seven seconds, but was rewarded with a new German record after her powerful running in the final stages.

Askale Tafa of Ethiopia and Kenya's Helena Kiprop finished in second and third with personal bests 2:21.31 and 2:25.01 respectively.

'I think every woman marathon runner dreams of running under 2hr 20mins and I achieved that today,' said Mikitenko, who moved with her family to Germany in 1996.

'I wasn't worried when the others went ahead. I ran as fast in the early stages as planned and then went faster,' she said.

'After going through halfway I felt it was a race against the clock. I was sure I was going to win.'