Mizuki Noguchi wins the 32nd real,- Berlin Marathon in an Asian record (Getty Images/Bongarts) © Copyright
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Noguchi breaks Asian record in Berlin Marathon

Olympic Marathon Champion Mizuki Noguchi won the 32nd real,- Berlin Marathon, today in the German capital. The Japanese runner clocked 2:19:12, breaking the course, Japanese, and the Asian record, to become the third fastest marathon runner ever behind Paula Radcliffe (Great Britain) and Catherine Ndereba (Kenya). With her time she is placed in sixth position on the women’s all-time list.

It was the sixth win in a row for Japanese women in Berlin. Germany’s Luminita Zaituc took second place with 2:27:34 after she had to stop with cramps about two kilometres from the finish. Asale Tafa (Ethiopia) was third in 2:28:27. Besides Zaituc a number of elite athletes suffered in the warmer temperatures towards the end of the race. In the sun it was more than 20° Celsius. But there was hardly any wind. “If it would have been less warm I would have run 2:18 – that is my next goal besides preparing to defend my Olympic gold medal in Beijing,” said Noguchi.

The men’s race was won by Kenyan Philip Manyim with 2:07:41. While Peter Chebet was second with 2:08:58 and Jackson Koech finished third in 2:09:07 the top five places were taken by Kenyans. Warm weather conditions slowed the elite runners in the final part of the race. More than one million spectators lined the course with its famous finish at Brandenburg Gate.

WOMEN - World records at 25km and 30km**

Noguchi ran her own race with pacemakers right from the start. It was the first ever time she had competed in a mass marathon race. “It was not easy to run against the clock for the first time instead of running against rivals next to me. But I am very happy to have broken the Japanese record. I wanted to do this as a sort of present to my coach Nouyuki Fujita,” confirmed Noguchi.

She reached 5k in 16:24 and then clocked 32:53 (10k), 49:22 (15k), 1:05:43 (20k), 1:09:19 (half), 1:22:12 (25k), 1:38:48 (30k), 1:55:19 (35k) and 2:11:53 (40k).  Except for the last part of the race Noguchi had run quite an even pace. And for a long time it looked as if she could run sub 2:19. “But the final five kilometres were really hard. I thought about my hard training in St. Moritz and gritted my teeth,” she confirmed.

It was last year when Yoko Shibui had broken the famous Japanese record of Naoko Takahashi in Berlin, clocking 2:19:41. Takahashi had won the race in 2001 achieving the first ever sub 2:20 time with 2:19:46. Now 27-year-old Noguchi has clocked 2:19:12, lowering the Asian record of Yingjie Sun by 27 seconds. The Chinese had clocked 2:19:39 in Beijing in 2003. Noguchi had the biggest winning margin in Berlin for more than 25 years. Second placed Zaituc, was 8:22 minutes behind the Olympic champion. It was the biggest winning margin in the Berlin Marathon since 1979.

Zaituc had started the race may be a bit too fast. Running together in a group with Ethiopians Asale Tafa and Worknesh Tola, who respectively placed third and fifth in the end, they passed 10k in 33:54 minutes. That would have led them to a time of about 2:23. Zaituc was still well in the race when she passed half way (1:11:51) and 25k (1:25:13). But between 30 and 40k she was struggling hard. “Already at 15k I had the feeling as if something might be wrong with my leg. And I feared getting a cramp. It is a pity since I wanted to run a personal best. But I am very happy to have placed second in this race,” said Zaituc.

MEN

The men’s race was a much more open affair than the women’s. A big leading group with all the favourites was led through half way by pacemakers in 63:38 minutes. Just before this mark the pace was slightly increased and that brought the first casualty: Driss El Himer (France), who had targeted the European record of 2:06:36, faltered badly in the second part of the race. He finished in 29th position with 2:22:50.

It was similar though not quite as bad with Bong-Ju Lee. The South Korean Olympic silver medallist from 1996 lost contact just before half way and finished a distant eleventh 2:12:19.  But also the top Kenyans struggled in the warm weather.

With tremendous pace Philip Manyim had broken away at 28k. He covered the 29th kilometre in 2:43 and then continued to add a couple of 1000m splits well below three minutes. After passing 30k in 1:29:54 he was nine seconds ahead of Peter Chebet. Michael Rotich, Joshua Chelanga and Jackson Koech followed another 11 to 13 seconds back.

Manyim increased his lead and he was so fast that for some time it looked likely he would break 2:06. But then he started faltering in the warm weather. Behind him Koech had overtaken Chebet. The race was not yet decided even though there was just 5k to go, and it was only when Koech also ran into bad problems, that former steeplechaser Manyim looked a certain winner.

“I am very happy with my result, although it was very hot,” confirmed Manyim. “Some time in between I thought I need to drink something, to get away with my life. It was my third marathon. Berlin is very nice and I want to come back next year.”

“When I was training in Kenya, it was my aim to win. But when I was here, I was a little bit afraid because there were some athletes with personal bests under 2:07. After 25k, race director Mark Milde said to me that if I wanted to win the race, I should go away now. And it worked”,

Before Berlin, Manyim had a personal best of 2:08:07 from the Rome Marathon this year, where he finished second.

“I never thought of catching Philip (Manyim), because I had my battle with Jackson Koech for second place. The race was good, but warm,” said Peter Chebet.  It was only in the last few metres that he managed to pass Jackson Koech, who was so exhausted that he barely made it into the finish.

“I had no energy left on the home stretch, so I had to give up on second place,” confirmed Jackson Koech. 

A record number of 39,882 runners from 103 nations participated in the 32nd real,- Berlin Marathon. Adding walkers, wheelchairs, handbikers and inline skaters 48,170 athletes participated in the marathon. Another 9312 pupils ran the schools’ race of one tenth of the marathon distance. So altogether the Berlin Marathon had a record number of 57,482 Athlete.

Jörg Wenig for the IAAF

**pending timekeeper's confirmation of official splits and ratification by IAAF

Results:

Men:
1. Philip Manyim (Kenya) 2:07:41,
2. Peter Chebet (Kenya) 2:08:58,
3. Jackson Koech (Kenya) 2:09:07,
4. Joshua Chelanga (Kenya) 2:09:10,
5. Joseph Ngolepus (Kenya) 2:10:10,
6. Shimeles Mola (Ethiopia) 2:10:11,
7. Michael Rotich (Kenya) 2:10:53,
8. Andrew Letherby (Australia) 2:11:42,
9. Romulo da Silva (Brazil) 2:12:03,
10. Terefe Yae (Ethiopia) 2:12:07,
11. Bong-ju Lee (Korea) 2:12:19,
12. Shane Nankervis (Australia) 2:12:33.

 Women:
1. Mizuki Noguchi (Japan) 2:19:12 (Asian record),
2. Luminita Zaituc (Germany)  2:27:34,
3. Asale Tafa (Ethiopia) 2:28:27,
4. Melanie Kraus (Germany) 2:34:23,
5. Worknesh Tola (Ethiopia) 2:35:31,
6. Shona Crombie-Hicks (Great Britain) 2:38:42.
7. Anne-Mette Aagaard (Denmark) 2:38:44
8. Anna Rahm (Sweden) 2:39:31