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A perfect debut for Rose Cheruiyot on a day that belonged to Kenya

A perfect debut for Rose Cheruiyot on a day that belonged to Kenya
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF
7 April 2002- Berlin - Kenyan dominance of Sunday’s Berlin Bewag Half Marathon was stronger than ever before in any of the three big international road races Berlin has to offer. Neither the Berlin Marathon nor the 25 k race has seen such a Kenyan sweep. In the men’s race of this 22nd edition of the Half Marathon, the first 13 places were taken by Kenyans because there were no strong European runners in the event. Additionally they also took the women’s title. In her debut half marathon Rose Cheruiyot ran a promising time of 69:32 minutes. Peter Chebet had won the men’s sprint finish in 61:19 shortly before.

From a record number of 14,709 entries in total, 11,365 athletes were running the 21.0975 km. With nearly 2,000 inline skaters plus more than 1,000 pupils taking part in a 4 k race and thousands of spectators along the flat course through Brandenburg Gate and the city centre, the Bewag Berlin Half Marathon continues to close the gap on the Berlin Marathon. Both events are organised by the same athletics club, the SCC Berlin.

The weather was perfect for most of the runners: blue skies and no wind at all. But for the Kenyans it was a bit too chilly in the morning, when temperatures were little above freezing level. “This is a very fast course. But the problem was for us that is was so cold today”, Peter Chebet told reporters after the race. It was only a year ago when Spaniard Fabián Roncero ran the year’s fastest half marathon time in Berlin with 59:52. But it soon became obvious that Roncero’s course record would not be in danger this time.

A leading group of twelve Kenyans passed the 5 k point in a moderate 14:43. And it took some more time before the athletes seemed to have warmed up. In the middle of the race some kilometre splits were around 2:50. After 10 k were reached in 29:06 Daniel Kirui and Augustus Kavutu broke away from the leading group. While the group collapsed Peter Chebet, who was seventh in last year’s IAAF world half marathon championships in Bristol, came back to the front. When 15 k were passed in 43:31 (40 seconds slower than Roncero in 2001) only Kirui was left with Chebet. Joseph Kahugu then managed to reach the leading two runners just before 20 k (58:06), but in the end it was Chebet and Kirui fighting for first place and 1500 Euro of prize money. Just one second separated the two on the finish line.

“I am very happy with my race and I achieved what I wanted: a place in the Kenyan team for the world half marathon championships”, Rose Cheruiyot said. These championships will be held in Brussels on 5th May. The 25-year-old former holder of world best times for 5 k and 10 miles on the road had entered the Berlin race just four days before the start.

Passing 5 k in 16:22 minutes she was running next to Restituta Joseph and a couple of men. But the Tanzanian Joseph, who has a half marathon personal best of 67:59 minutes, could not match the pace in the second half of the race. Rose Cheruiyot took the front and was already 21 seconds ahead of Joseph at 15 k (49:03). “There were no men near me after 17 k, but I had no problem running alone. It is a nice flat course, but it was a bit too cold for me too. Next time I will try to run a bit faster”, Rose Cheruiyot, who is married to the former 5000 m world champion Ismael Kirui and has two children, said.

This year she wants to concentrate on road races and try to qualify at 5000 m for the Commonwealth Games. “I will not run a marathon this year. But I intend to do it next year.”

Peter Chebet also plans to start his marathon career next year. Meanwhile he trains together with his brother near Eldoret. Joseph Chebet is a prominent figure in the marathon scene, having won in Boston and New York.

Results, Men:

1. Peter Chebet KEN     61:19;
2. Daniel Kirui    KEN     61:20;
3. Christopher Kandie     KEN     61:24
4. Joseph Kahugu          KEN     61:28
5. Augustus Kavutu        KEN     61:59
6. Luka Keitany KEN     62:04
7. Bonifac Usisivu          KEN     62:25
8. Moses Masai KEN     62:48
Women:
1. Rose Cheruiyot          KEN     69:32
2. Restituta Joseph        TAN      70:16
3. Zivile Balciunaite        LTU      72:27
4. Lilian Chelimo            KEN     72:40
5. Annemette Jensen     DEN     72:52
6. Monika Drybulska      POL      73:49

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