A Kenyan outsider triumphed in the men’s race at the Vattenfall Berlin Half Marathon on Sunday (7), while Helah Kiprop went one better than last year to win the women’s race on her 28th birthday.
Jacob Kendagor had entered Germany’s biggest and best quality race at this distance with a personal best of 1:01:15, making him more than two minutes slower than the fastest man in the field. But in the end it was the 28-year-old who pulled off the biggest win of his career so far.
In sunny but cool conditions (around 4°C), a group of four Kenyan runners – Kendagor, Silas Kipruto, Victor Kipchirchir and Kenneth Kipkemoi –passed the 10km mark in 28:23 behind a pacemaker. The pace was a bit slower than expected, but the group was nevertheless on schedule for a sub-one-hour result.
It was then Kendagor who took the initiative. He increased the pace at 11km and only Kipruto could hold on. Kendagor shifted into another gear after 17km and Kipruto was beaten.
Clocking 59:36, he improved his PB by 1:39 minutes and became the 16th runner in the history of the event to break 60 minutes in Berlin.
“For me it was not too cold. The weather and the course were very good. And I am happy to be back in Berlin with another very good personal best,” said Kendagor, who finished third at the BIG 25km in Berlin last year with 1:11:59. Kendagor comes from Eldoret where his training partners include marathon runners Wilson Chebet and Sammy Kitwara.
Kenyans once again dominated the Berlin Half Marathon, taking the first six places. Kipruto was second in 1:00:12, followed by Kipchirchir (1:00:27), Kipkemoi (1:00:45), Frederick Ngeny (1:01:37) and Joseph Kiptum (1:01:38).
For Germany’s best runner, Falk Cierpinski, 13th place with a PB of 65:45 was an encouraging result. After years of injury problems the son of double Olympic Marathon champion Waldemar Cierpinski could be on his way back.
Kiprop takes early initiative
In the women’s race Helah Kiprop made a decisive move early in the race. Before she even reached the 10km mark, she surged ahead to leave behind Kenyan rivals Philes Ongori and Valentine Kipketer.
Passing 10km in 32:17, Kiprop was four seconds ahead of Ongori and then increased her lead substantially. She only slowed at the end, allowing defending champion Ongori to close the gap to 50 metres, but it was still a comfortable victory.
“I was not aware that it was that close,” said Kiprop, who crossed the finish line in 1:07:54 – the second-best performance of her life, following the 1:07:39 PB she set earlier this year at the RAK Half Marathon. It was also the third-fastest time in the history of the race, and the first time since 2006 that 68 minutes has been broken in the women’s race.
“I could not catch Helah, because she was running faster again on the final stretch,” said Ongori, who took second place with 1:08:01. “I’m happy with my result since I’ve had a bad time since last April. First my father passed away, then I got injured,” said Ongori, who now targets a spring Marathon and a time of 2:20-2:21.
For Kiprop it was not only a victory but a successful revenge as well. A year ago she had been beaten by Ongori in Berlin by just one second. This time it was the other way around. “At the start it felt so cold that I could hardly move. But once we were running it was getting better,” said Kiprop.
Japan’s Mai Ito ran a fine race, finishing third in 1:10:00. Behind her Kenyans Valentine Kipketer (1:10:48) and Lilian Jelagat (1:11:59) took fourth and fifth, while Great Britain’s Sonia Samuels was sixth in 1:12:36. There was bad luck for Germany’s Marathon hope Anna Hahner, who was forced to pull out after 14km due to a foot injury.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF
1 Jacob Kendagor (KEN) 59:36
2 Silas Kipruto (KEN) 1:00:12
3 Victor Kipchirchir (KEN) 1:00:27
4 Kenneth Kipkemoi (KEN) 1:00:45
5 Frederick Ngeny (KEN) 1:01:37
6 Joseph Kiptum (KEN) 1:01:38
7 Kiflom Slum (ERI) 1:01:55
8 Richard Mengich (KEN) 1:02:28
1 Helah Kiprop (KEN) 1:07:54
2 Philes Ongori (KEN) 1:08:01
3 Mai Ito (JPN) 1:10:00
4 Valentine Kipketer (KEN) 1:10:48
5 Lilian Jelagat (KEN) 1:11:59
6 Sonia Samuels (GBR) 1:12:36