(CNN) -- Kenya's Dennis Kimetto became the first man to run the marathon in under two hours three minutes as he set a new world record in Berlin Sunday.
The 30-year-old Kimetto trimmed 26 seconds off the previous best by compatriot Wilson Kipsang, set last year in Berlin, with a time of two hours two minutes 57 seconds.
Kimetto, who is from the Rift Valley region, the traditional breeding ground for many distance running greats, battled fellow Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai in the closing stages, eventually shrugging him off with four kilometers remaining.
Mutai finished second, his time of two hours three minutes 13 seconds also inside the old record.
But to pre-race favorite Kimetto went the glory and he realized early in the race that the record was within his grasp.
"As the race went on, I saw I could do it, I'm delighted to have won," Kimetto told reporters after his victory.
He is among a group of young Kenyans who are dominating the road race scene, pushing the record ever nearer the magical two hour mark.
Kimetto's previous best was a course record two hours three minutes 45 seconds, set in winning the 2013 Chicago Marathon, again relegating Mutai to second place.
In the women's race, Tirfi Tsegaye of Ethiopia took the victory with a fast winning time of two hours 20 minutes 18 seconds, nine seconds ahead of compatriot Feyse Tadese.
Shalane Flanagan of the United States was third in a personal best of two hours 21 minutes 14 seconds.