Berlin, GermanyIn a triumphant return to Berlin’s Olympic Stadium for the city’s traditional 25km race for the first time since 2000, Kenyan Paul Kosgei smashed the World record today by almost one minute, clocking 1:12:45.
Due to the rebuilding of the arena, which will be concluded this summer, the finish of the 25 km von Berlin’ had to be moved behind the stadium for the last three years.
Now the runners returned in style. It was the first race at the distance for Kosgei, who had been IAAF World Half Marathon Champion in 2002. Compatriot Rodgers Rop had set the old mark of 1:13:44 when he had won this race the ‘25 km von Berlin’ three years ago.
Finally, it seems that the Kenyans have showed some of their real potential at the 25k distance. In comparison to other World records on the road the 25km mark looked soft. That is of course partly because the distance has lost some of its value after the introduction of World Half Marathon championships in the beginning of the nineties.
Five under old World record
But today’s men’s race in Berlin was a real boost for the event. Besides the record it was the quality in depth that was better than ever before. The first five runners all finished within the former World record.
In very good conditions with temperatures between 12 and 14° Celsius, almost no wind but light rain in parts of the race Luke Kibet as well finished in a sub 1:13 time. In finishing second he clocked 1:12:52, followed by Benson Cherono (1:13:01), Titus Munji (1:13:32) and Joseph Riri (1:13:35). Kenyans took the first eleven places.
In contrast to last year there was a fast pace right from the start. 5k was passed in 14:33 minutes, 10k after 29:13. It was during the next 5k section that the first group was reduced to five runners: Kosgei, Kibet, Cherono, Riri and Munji, who had been one of the pace makers in Paul Tergat’s World record race at last year’s Berlin Marathon. Munji had finished the race in third position with 2:06:15. These five passed 15k in 43:40 minutes.
20km in 58:21 and Half Marathon in 61:36
So all that was needed for a new record was a 30 minute interval for the last 10k but the course is uphill in parts of this section. Nonetheless apart from two kilometres the pace remained high. It was at the end of an uphill stretch just before the 20k mark (58:21) when Paul Kosgei pushed and broke away from his rivals. He then passed the half marathon point, which had an official timing system, in 61:36 minutes. Kosgei was three seconds ahead of Kibet, and another three seconds ahead of Cherono.
Late decision to run in Berlin
It was only during last week that Kosgei had decided to come to Berlin for the 25k race. Originally it was not on his schedule which is why he had run a 15k race in Lyon eight days earlier. He won that in 43:27 minutes.
“I then decided to go to Berlin because I hoped that there would be chance to break the World record. I knew I was in very good form”, Kosgei said. The 25k race has been the longest event he has ever competed in. But after today’s success the marathon is his next big target.
“I used to be a bit afraid of the marathon distance. But after today’s experience I am really confident because I felt very strong at the end of the race. I hope to be able to break the marathon World record as well one day.”
World Half Marathon rather than Olympics is the target
He had to fly back to Kenya this evening, where he will prepare for the military championships to be held on 22nd May. “I will either run the 5,000 or 10,000 metres. But the Olympics are not in my mind. Instead I will prepare for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and the run my first marathon in October or November.”
“The introduction of world records for road events was an inspiration for Paul to come to Berlin for this race. Because in comparison to the other records this was the easiest mark to beat”, Renato Canova said. The Italian from Turin is Kosgei’s coach. He is the coach of the World Steeplechase champion Said Saaeed Shaheen as well.
“We are very happy with this event. It worked perfect in the men’s race because there were a number of athletes who wanted to break the World record. And they helped each other. It was perfect teamwork. I think this new World 25km record now is on a very high level”, Christoph Kopp said. He is the elite race-director of the event, and being the president of Berlin’s local athletics federation Kopp is involved in Berlin’s bid for the IAAF World Championships in 2009 as well.
Chepkonga takes women’s title for Kenya too
There was a Kenyan winner in the women’s race as well. Christine Chepkonga was the first woman in the stadium clocking 1:25:34. The 25 year-old was followed by Restituta Joseph (Tanzania/1:27:09) and Irene Jerotich (Kenya/1:29:23). “It was my very first race at this distance. And it was my biggest win so far. That makes me very happy”, said Chepkonga. She is married to her Dutch manager Eeuwe van der Meulen.
During the first half of the race Christine Chepkonga ran in a group with Joseph and Jerotich, passing 10k in 32:58. “After this I did not feel that well but managed to hang on. Then at 19k, when it was down to Restituta and me, I realised that she was tiring. So I thought I should give it a try and go for victory. It worked perfect for me”, said Chepkonga. She will continue doing road races during the season, but no marathon. It is her aim to run a fast 10k time of sub 32 minutes..
But the main feature of the event that had more than 8000 entries altogether (there were races of shorter distances plus events for skaters) and of course the men’s race.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF
1. Paul Kosgei KEN 1:12:45
2. Luke Kibet KEN 1:12:52
3. Benson Cherono KEN 1:13:01
4. Titus Munji KEN 1:13:32
5. Joseph Riri KEN 1:13:35
6. Jason Mbote KEN 1:14:44
7. Fred Mogaka KEN 1:15:55
8. Jacob Losian KEN 1:16:17
9. Yator Miningwo KEN 1:16:22
10. Sammy Kigen KEN 1:16:28
11. Richard Mutai KEN 1:16:54
1. Christine Chepkonga KEN 1:25:34
2. Restituta Joseph TAN 1:27:09
3. Irene Jerotich KEN 1:29:23
4. Natalia Belova RUS 1:32:31
5. Ludmilla Afoniouchkina RUS 1:33:32
6. Georgia Ampatzidou GRE 1:34:30
7. Carmen Siewert GER 1:34:51