There was another great display of Kenyan running on the streets of Berlin in today’s 24th Bewag Berlin Half Marathon.
Six months ago Paul Tergat became the first runner to break 2.05 hours in the Berlin Marathon. This time it was another runner from Dr. Gabriele Rosa’s group who led the Kenyan success but in the end Paul Kirui did not quite achieve his goal of breaking the hour.
The 24 year-old won the race in 60:40, crossing the line just two seconds ahead of Solomon Bushendich. The Kenyans took the first ten places in Germany’s biggest and best quality half marathon.
The women's race was dominated by the Kenyans as well. Just a week after winning the Lisbon Half Marathon there was another triumph for Joyce Chepchumba. The 33 year-old ran 69:49. Kenyan women took the first five places.
Including inline skaters and walkers altogether 17,046 athletes from 62 countries took part in the Bewag Berlin Half Marathon. An estimated 150,000 spectators lined the route through the
Men's Race - Kirui takes two second win
On a fine day in Berlin it was the wind which cost Paul Kirui some vital seconds in his chase to break the hour.
“If the pace is fine from the beginning and the weather is good I should be able to run a sub 60 minute time”, Paul Kirui had said two days before the race.
The first problem occurred after three kilometres when the pacemaker was in trouble. Sammy Kipruto was supposed to pass 10k in 28:30. But it was not his day. And he was running at the back of the lead group instead of heading the favourites.
So Paul Kirui and Christopher Cheboiboch had to keep up the pace themselves. A group of about ten runners passed 5k in 14:30 and 10k in 28:48. They were slightly slower than expected. And they had lost one of their favourites: Cheboiboch suffered a slight back problem. “At the 9k mark I had to slow a bit. But I am still happy with my result," In the end he finished third in 61:23 minutes.
Decisive surge between 10km and 15km
It was between 10 and 15k (43:01), when Paul Kirui pushed the pace and left behind almost all of his countrymen. But there was one surprise for Kirui: Solomon Bushendich.
The 20 year-old Kenyan ran a great debut at the distance. He kept running besides Kirui and it was only on the home-straight when Bushendich was finally beaten. “I knew that I would not be able to beat Kirui. But I wanted to stay with him as long as possible.” Coming from Iten in Kenya Italian Renato Canova is his manager. In 2001 he had won the 10,000 m at the African Junior Championships and during this summer he intends to run long distances on the track again.
“I knew this is a fast course so I hope to break the hour. The main problem today was the wind. It was not the pacemaker”, Paul Kirui said. He had already won the Berlin Half Marathon last year, clocking 61:05. Kirui will now prepare for his marathon debut at Nashville’s Rock’n Roll Marathon later in the year.
Women's race - fourth win for Chepchumba
While Kirui won the Berlin Half Marathon for a second time it was four wins for Joyce Chepchumba. The Kenyan had won the event from 1999 to 2001, setting the course record of 68:22 four years ago.
Having won the Lisbon Half Marathon just seven days ago Chepchumba did not push the pace in the first part of the race. Instead it was last year’s winner Magdaline Chemjor who led the women’s race, passing 5km in 16:51. But she ran into trouble before the 10km point and finally came in 10th with a time of 1:13:29. Chepchumba took the lead, passed 10km in 33:45 minutes and then constantly increased her advantage.
Off to London again for the full distance
Finally Joyce Chepchumba broke 70 minutes for the third time in Berlin. It was in 2001 when she last won the Berlin Half Marathon and then won the London Marathon as well. This time Berlin was again her final test for the London Marathon in two weeks time. Asked if she feels herself in a position of the favourite for London Joyce said: “I don’t know. The marathon is a long race, and a lot can happen on the way.”
Having run two half marathons within one week Chepchumba will now do only a little training before her race in London. “These races were the major part of my training for London. I will do some speed work on two days next week but otherwise take it easy and recover.”
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF
1. Paul Kirui (Kenya) 1:00:40
2. Solomon Bushendich (Kenya) 1:00:42
3. Christopher Cheboiboch (Kenya) 1:01.23
4. Daniel Rono (Kenya) 1:00:26
5. James Kipketer (Kenya) 1:02:05
6. Elijah Sang (Kenya) 1:02:07
7. Nicola Lekura (Kenya) 1:02:31
8. Daniel Kirui (Kenya) 1:02:35
9. Christopher Kandie (Kenya) 1:03:38
10. David Chelule (Kenya) 1:03:41
1. Joyce Chepchumba (Kenya) 1:09:49
2. Maragaret Atudonyang (Kenya) 1:11:31
3. Mary Ptikany (Kenya) 1:11.32
4. Emily Kimuria (Kenya) 1:11:35
5. Jane Ngotho (Kenya) 1:11:46
6. Ashebir Alem (Ethiopia) 1:12:52
7. Lilian Chelimo (Kenya) 1:13:29
8. Susanne Ritter (Germany) 1:14:29
9. Kathrin Wessel (Germany) 1:14:30
10. Magdaline Chemjor (Kenya) 1:15:57