The Kenyans were slowed by the worst sort of “April Weather“ as it
is called in Germany – but still there was no way stopping them on their
way to yet another great triumph on Berlins roads. The Bewag BERLIN HALF
MARATHON seems to be their race.
Last year they took a record first 13 places, this time they took the first
eight. Though also the sun was shining for short times it seemed to be much
harder for the Kenyans to fight against winds, snow showers and even hail than
against other runners. Although conditions were so difficult Paul Kirui ran a
smashing time of 61:05 minutes, which is the seventh fastest of the year and
the sixth fastest in the history of the race. It was the seventh time in nine
years that the winner was a Kenyan. And in the womens race Magdaline Chemjor
managed the fifth consecutive win for Kenya. The 24-year-old ran 71:12 minutes.
Altogether 17,692 runners from 63 nations took part in the Bewag BERLIN HALF
MARATHON. Among them were 13,948 runners, 2,003 skaters, 237 walkers, six
wheelchair athletes, 1,287 runners in the 4 k race and 211 children, who were
running about 800 metres already on Saturday. “Despite the strange
weather we managed to organize a great event. And surprisingly quite a number
of runners recorded personal best times. With a 20 percent increase on
participants we can be very happy“, race director Horst Milde said.
“For the first five kilometres it was only about warming up. We ran as
we are used to in training“, Paul Kirui said. That was when Janne Holmen
was leading the race. “I was trying to run my own pace throughout the
race. But in the later stages it was difficult because of the wind – I
had hoped for a faster time“, the Finnish surprise of the European
Championships said. It was in Munich last year, when Janne Holmen won the
marathon. In Berlin he was again the best of the Europeans, but the competition
was of course less strong. Finally in 9th place Holmen ran 64:20. He will not
run a marathon in spring but plans to do one in autumn. “Very sudden the
race became much faster“, Janne Holmen recalled. He immediately lost
contact. That was at around 6 k, when the Kenyans decided that it was enough
warming up now.
Paul Kirui and James
Kwambai, who both had travelled to Berlin from Dr. Rosas training camp near
Brescia, strongly increased the pace and the leading group of nine athletes
broke up. After the slow pace with split times of more than three minutes for
the first few kilometres, splits were suddenly around ten seconds faster. While
the 5 k point was reached after 14:56 minutes, the next five kilometres were
run in 14:05 (29:00 for 10 k). Robert Cheboror, who later snatched second place
one second ahead of Kwambai in 61:55, ran in a small group with Isaac Macharia
and Christopher Torotich ten seconds behind the leading duo. Kirui and Kwambai
kept the pace high, but between 13 and 14 k on Berlins famous shopping mile
Kurfürstendamm Kirui left behind his last rival. Reaching the 15 k point
in 43:07 minutes, the 23-year-old seemed to be even on course for the fastest
time of the year so far (60:21). “But instead of fighting against my
rivals I had to fight against the wind“, Kirui said. He slowed and just
missed a time sub 61 minutes in the end. “I had really hoped for good
weather. And I think in better conditions I might have been able to run about
45 seconds faster.“
Still Paul Kirui was happy. “This was my biggest success so
far“, he said, after reaching the finish just in time before it started
to hail for the first time. At school the athlete from Eldoret had not much
interest in running. “I was playing football in my schooldays, wearing
the shirt with number 11 on it.“ It was after school, when he joined a
training group. Three years ago Dr. Gabriele Rosa brought him to Europe for the
first time. Could Paul Kirui become Rosas next strong marathon runner? “I
have not yet decided when I might move up to the marathon – at present
the half marathon is my favourite distance.“
In the womens race
Magdaline Chemjor was setting the pace right from the beginning. Having reached
5 k after 16:31 minutes, Lenah Cheruiyot was still in a group with some men,
led by Chemjor. Having won the 25 k race for the last two years the Kenyan is
quite familiar with the Berlin roads. “It is a pitty that the weather was
so bad, because it is a fast course. And I had hoped to run between 68 and 69
minutes“, Chemjor said. Already at 10 k (32:56) she was 29 seconds clear
of Cheruiyot. In the end she was 48 seconds ahead of Cheruiyot (72:00).
Slightly limping after finishing, Chemjor was not suffering of a muscle injury.
“I was running with new shoes“, Chemjor surprisingly admitted.
Normally joggers are always taught not to do so, but it seems to be not that
unusual for some elite athletes. It was last year in Berlin when Naoko
Takahashi revealed that she had won the real,- BERLIN MARATHON wearing new
shoes. For Chemjor the new shoes caused some problems during the last part of
the race. “I had some pressure on my instep. But that was not the reason
for slowing in the last part of the race – I slowed because of the
snow.“ There shouldn be snow next month, when Magdaline Chemjor intends
to come back to Berlin for the 25 k race.
While Joyce Chepchumba had cancelled her start due to a cold, Rodgers Rop
and Christopher Cheboibok withdrew because of the bad weather. The Boston and
New York Marathon winner Rop had come with Cheboibok to their Detmold training
base from Kenya just a couple of days ago. When they awoke on Saturday morning
the surroundings were all covered with snow. They then decided not to travel to
Berlin, fearing they might catch a cold. “Of course it is a blow for us.
But I can understand this, because for them the Boston Marathon is the real
important race“, Mark Milde, Berlins elite manager, said.