Kenyan teenagers Geoffrey Kipsang and Valentine Kipketer stole the show and dominated the 31st edition of the Vattenfall Berlin Half Marathon on Sunday (3).
Running in warm temperatures approaching 20° Celsius in the shade and a slight wind, recently-minted World junior Cross Country champion Kipsang won the men's race in 1:00:38 while Kipketer was the surprise women’s winner with 1:10:12. Both winers are just 18 years old.
“These are the two greatest wins of my career so far,” said Kipsang, who had taken the World Cross Country title only two weeks earlier. “I didn’t mind the warm weather, but because of this the overall pace was a bit too slow.”
While a sub-60 minute run was the target, the goal was soon beyond reach. Running through the 10-kilometre n 28:47, the leading group was well off the pace.
"When I saw the clock after 15 K I knew that we wouldn’t achieve a sub-one hour time. So I went for the win and pushed the pace,” said Kipsang, who increased the pace decisively at around 17 kilometers and drew away from the leading group. In the end he was well clear of fellow Kenyans Eliud Kiplagat (1:00:52) and Daniel Chebii (1:00:56). Paul Kipkorir (1:01:11), Kiplimo Kimutai (1:01:16) and Megersa Bacha (Ethiopia/1:01:33) took the next places.
Kipketer surprise even herself
Surprisingly it was Kipketer, who took the lead right from the start in the women’s race. The 18-year-old was running her first race outside of Africa and had only once run a half Marathon before. That was in Moshi, Tanzania, where she won the race in 1:14:58, held at high altitude at the end of February. Now she suddenly found herself on the way to winning one of the world’s major Half Marathons. It came about, in part, because Germany's pre-race favourite Sabrina Mockenhaupt dropped out after 12 kilometers. Prior to that she was in second place behind Kipketer and was on pace to threaten her 1:08:45 personal best.
“It was simply not my day today," said Mockenhaupt, 30. "Somehow I had a blackout and nothing worked."
Although Kipketer was not able to maintain her fast pace (32:33 for the opening 10-K) during the second half there was no way she was going to lose her grip on the title. With a finishing time of 1:10:12 she was well ahead of Fate Tola of Ethiopia (1:11:40) and Sonia Samuels of Great Britain (1:12:56). Andrea Mayr of Austria (1:13:22) and Poland's Agnieszka Gortel (1:14:57) placed fourth and fifth.
“I would never have expected to win my first major international race,” Kipketer said. "But I knew that I was in good shape since I had trained well in Eldoret."
Organisers registered a record 25,500 runners for the event. Adding other competitions the total entry figure was 28,869 from 102 nations.
Jörg Wenig (organizers) for the IAAF