The forecast did not look promising, after the days leading up to the 22nd
Bewag BERLINER HALBMARATHON had seen temperatures constantly dropping. Still on
race day morning, it was icy cold and barely above freezing. But then, the sun
came up and kept on shining through the whole race. Though it still was a bit
on the cold side for the top African runners, a high percentage of competitors
achieved personal bests in near-perfect conditions. Of 14,709 competitors from
49 nations who had entered the race, a record number of 13,147 (provisional
figure) crossed the finish line. And, the approximately 85,000 spectators who
lined the course were strong evidence of the high public interest raised by
this year’s event.
First to finish were the inline skaters where both winners came from
overseas. Silvia Nino (Colombia) dashed home in 35min47.7, bettering the
women’s course record by 1 minute 17 seconds. The men’s race saw a
photo-finish decision in favour of New Zeeland’s Kalon Dobbin in
35min37.6, from Nico Widuwilt (GER) in 35min37.8, and defending champion Steven
Madsen (DEN), in 35min37.8. The next placed finishers were also separated by
fractions of a second only.
The women’s half-marathon footrace was won by Rose Cheruiyot (KEN) who
impressed with a time of 1hr09.32 for her debut over the distance, which is the
fifth fastest time run in the world this year. In Berlin, only Joyce Chepchumba
(KEN) had run faster with her 1hr08.22 of 2000. Runner-up Restituta Joseph
(TAN) – winner of the 2001 AVON women’s race in Berlin – also
turned in a convincing performance in 1hr10.16 (14th in the world rankings),
which was the fourth fastest time ever run on the Berlin course. Third place
went to Lithuanian Zivie Balciunaite, in 1hr12.27. Best German runner was
Nicole Güldemeister (SC Potsdam) in 1hr15.27 (7th place), while Kerstin
Pressler (OSC Berlin) who came 8th in 1hr16.47, was the best female runner from
the host city. The former BERLIN-MARATHON champion (1987) is on her comeback
trail, having given birth to a child last year.
The men’s race was totally dominated by Kenyan talent. As last seen in
1996, a whole bunch of runners turned into the final straight, and after a dash
to the line only five seconds separated the first three finishers. First to
cross the line was pre-race favourite Peter Chebet (KEN) in 1hr01.19, from
Daniel Kirui (KEN) in 1hr01.20, a new personal best, and Christopher Kandie
(KEN) in 1hr01.24 (PB). Also the next placed finishers, Joseph Kahugu (KEN)
1hr01.28, Augustus Kavutu (KEN) 1hr01.59, and Luka Keitany (KEN) 1hr02.04 (on
his debut ), were rewarded with new PBs. Who said it was too cold, then? First
European was Philipp Rist (SUI) in 1hr04.48, finishing 14th overall, and best
runner from the Berlin-Brandenburg region was Holger Zobries (LC Cottbus) in
1hr09.11, which earned him the regional championship title, while Romuald
Krupanek of the organising club SCC was the top finisher from Berlin in
1hr10.08, for 24th place.
Among the celebrities taking part, Peter Strieder, the Berlin Senator for
Urban Development, completed his first half-marathon in a respectable time of
The women’s wheelchair champion, the same as last year, was Yvonne
Sehmisch (LC Cottbus), in 1hr00.35, while the men’s title went to Ibrahim
Ahmed Salim (United Arab Emirates), in 57.53.
The school children’s FUN-RUN “Around the Berliner Rathaus"
over a distance of about 2 miles was won by Anne Barber (Coubertin Gymn.), in
11 minutes 43 seconds, and Sebastian Strempler (Kath. Schule Liebfrauen) in
The last half-marathon finisher came home in 3 hours 12 minutes.
The German Red Cross (DRK) distributed 3,600 litres of hot tea to the
runners along the course. While four competitors had to be rushed to hospital,
all due to injuries sustained in falls, 117 received first-aid treatment for
minor problems. Race medical director Dr. Willi Heepe summed up the event as
“generally positive“. The race organiser, SCC-RUNNING, wishes to
thank the DRK for their skilled and flexible commitment. Thanks are due also to
the Berlin police force under the direction of PR Martin Röhrig, who
ensured a smooth, fair and trouble-free competition for all.