Patrick Makau Musyoki has won another major half marathon this year, but it was a very close affair. The 23 year-old Kenyan who had won the races in Ras Al Khaimah (United Arab Emirates), Reading (GBR) and The Hague (NED) today took victory at the Vattenfall Berlin Half Marathon, defending his title from last year, clocking exactly one hour for the distance.
Musyoki was faster in Ras Al Khaimah (59:35) and in uncomfortable cold conditions in the German capital he had to give everything at the end of the race to deny Eshetu Wondimu. The Ethiopian crossed the line just one second behind the winner in 60:01 minutes.
Peninah Arusei put in a fine performance in the women’s race. The Kenyan clocked 68:22, which is the third fastest times this year so far.
A record number of 20,660 runners from 86 nations had entered Germany’s biggest and best quality half marathon. 17,733 runners finished the race. Adding other events 24,551 athletes had entered the event. More than 150,000 spectators lined the course in the city which will stage the IAAF World Championships in Athletics next year.
This early split times indicated that the course record would probably be out of reach. 5km was passed in 14:07 minutes. While all the big favourites were in the leading group the pacemaker was not: Charles Ngolepus had dropped back far too early. “This was not as we had planned it,” said Race Director Mark Milde. The 10km point was reached in 28:22 – almost one minutes slower than a year ago.
42:48 was the split time for 15km and then a group of four runners headed for the 20km mark in the lead. Next to Musyoki and Wondimu there were two Kenyans: Elijah Keitany (Kenya), who later finished third in 60:10, and William Todoo (Kenya), who ran 60:12 for fourth.
When 19km was passed it was Wondimu who suddenly surged ahead, trying to open a decisive gap. But despite having a slight knee problem related to the cold weather Musyoki responded immediately and was right next to Wondimu. They passed 20km in 57:00, but it was not before the last few metres that the battle for victory was decided in favour of the silver medallist from the 2007 World Half Marathon Championships. Eshetu Wondimu had been fourth a year ago in Berlin when he had clocked 60:08. Five runners finished within 61 minutes.
It was unlucky that the two fastest runners did not dip under 60 minutes because due to an earlier accident involving an inline skater in their separate race (which started 25mins earlier) the right side of the ,Straße des 17. Juni’ was blocked off, and the diversion of maybe ten metres from one side of the street to the other cost the leaders one or two seconds which were decisive in the end concerning the hour mark.
“We intended to run faster. Myself and my Kenyan colleagues we worked hard to push the pace, but it was simply too cold today. But I intend to come back to Berlin next year to break my course record,” said Patrick Makau Musyoki. The defending champion still clocked the seventh fastest time of the year and the seventh fastest in the history of the race. A year ago Musyoki had run the course record of 58:56 minutes which is still the fourth fastest time ever.
The cold weather also affected the performance of the women’s winner, though Peninah Arusei still did better than expected.
“In warmer weather I could have run faster. I think in the future a time of 67 minutes is possible for me – this is my goal,” the 29-year-old Kenyan said.
In Berlin she improved her previous personal best by 61 seconds.
“Early in the race I looked back to check about the others. I was confident that I would win,” she commented her solo race which she won ahead of Pauline Wangui (Kenya/69:51) and former Kenyan Isabellah Andersson (Schweden/71:24).
For much of the race it had looked as if Peninah Arusei would be able to improve the world leading time of her fellow countrywoman Philes Ongori (67:57 minutes in Marugame/JPN).
After a fast 31:56 split Arusei had passed the 10km mark – this was just 14 seconds slower than her personal best, which she had run three weeks ago in Paderborn. She then passed 15km in 48:12 – still on time for a sub 68 minute time. But in the end she slightly slowed and missed Ongori’s mark by 25 seconds.
In four week’s time Arusei will come back to Berlin for the traditional ,Berlin runs ... 25km’ race, which she won already two years ago. Taking today’s performance into consideration Arusei could be in for a record chase on 4th May: The nine-year-old record by Susan Chepkemei (Kenya) stands at 1:24:29.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF
1. Patrick Makau Musyoki KEN 60:00
2. Eshetu Wondimu ETH 61:01
3. Elijah Keitany KEN 60:10
4. William Todoo KEN 60:12
5. Joseph Maregu KEN 60:48
6. Wilson Kipsang KEN 61:03
1. Peninah Arusei KEN 68:22
2. Pauline Wangui KEN 69:51
3. Isabellah Andersson SWE 71:24
4. Dulce Maria Rodriguez MEX 71:25
5. Milka Jerotich KEN 72:18
6. Beatrice Omwanza KEN 72:40