Kenenisa Bekele set the second-fastest marathon time in history in Berlin ©Getty Images

Legendary Ethiopian runner Kenenisa Bekele won the Berlin Marathon in the second-fastest time in history as he narrowly missed out on Eliud Kipchoge's world record.

The 37-year-old three-time Olympic gold medallist and multiple world champion clocked 2 hours 01min 41sec to clinch his second title in Germany's capital. 

Bekele, world record holder over 5,000 and 10,000 metres, crossed the line two seconds slower than Kipchoge's world record, set in Berlin last year.

Kipchoge was not competing in Berlin as he is preparing for another assault at becoming the first athlete to run under two hours.

The Kenyan's latest attempt is set to take place in Vienna on October 12.

Bekele led home an Ethiopian sweep of the podium as Birhanu Legese was second in 2:02:48 and Sisay Lemma took third in the final race of the latest Abbott World Marathon Majors series. 

Ashete Bekere won the women's race on a successful day for the Ethiopian team ©Getty Images
Ashete Bekere won the women's race on a successful day for the Ethiopian team ©Getty Images

The Ethiopian veteran reeled in Legese, who had broke away from Bekele and Lemma at the 30 kilometre mark, and sprinted for the line in pursuit of the world record.

"I am very happy with this fantastic result, I am happy with my new personal best," said Bekele.

"Although I am sorry I missed the world record by only a few seconds. 

"This result encourages me for the future, I know I can still run a very good marathon and I don’t give up."

Ashete Bekere of Ethiopia triumphed in the women's race, earning victory in a time of 2:20:14.

Bekere outsprinted compatriot Mare Dibaba in the final stages of the race to seal an impressive win and cement Ethiopia's marathon prowess.

Kenya's Sally Chepyego came through to finish third in 2:21:06.