Berlin:Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi of Japan became the first woman to run a marathon under two hours and 20 minutes when she won the Berlin race on Sunday. Takahashi set a new world record of 2 hours 19 minutes and 46 seconds, breaking the previous mark by nearly a minute. The men's race was won by Joseph Ngolepus of Kenya. More than 37,000 runners participated in the 28th Berlin Marathon. There had been plenty of pre-race talk about a possible world record. Much of the speculation was focused on two women, Japan's Olympic champion Takahashi and Tegla Loroupe of Kenya. Loroupe held the world record of 2 hours 20 minutes 43 seconds - set on the same flat course two years ago. But the Kenyan could not match the blistering early pace set by Takahashi, who had the benefit of a tailwind for much of the race and was egged on by thousands of cheering spectators waving Japanese flags and was well ahead of world record pace as she approached the halfway mark. Meanwhile, the men's race was developing into an all-Kenyan battle between Joseph Ngolepus, Willy Cheruiyot and William Kiplagat. But it was Ngolepus who went on to win the men's race in 2 hours 8 minutes, 47 seconds. Cheruiyot was in second place with Kiplagat in third. Shortly after, Takahashi completed her historic run, beating the previous record by 58 seconds. Loroupe finished a distant second; 8 minutes and 17 seconds behind Takahashi.