It was the first time that the ,25 km von Berlin’ finished in
Berlin’s new Olympic Stadium. And the runners seemed to adapt to this
special occasion. After three years of building works the race returned with a
world record: Kenyan Paul Kosgei clocked 1:12:45. It was the first race at the
distance for Kosgei, who had been World Half Marathon Champion in 2002. Rodgers
Rop had set the old mark of 1:13:44 when he had won the ,25 km von
Berlin’ three years ago.
Finally it seems that the Kenyans showed some of their real potential at the
25 k distance. In comparison to other world records on the road the 25 k mark
looked soft. That is of course partly because the distance has lost some of its
value after the introduction of world championships at the half marathon
distance in the beginning of the nineties. But today’s men’s race
in Berlin was a real boost for the event. Besides the record it was the quality
in depth that was better than ever before. The first five runners all finished
within the former world record. In very good conditions with temperatures
between 12 and 14 ° Celsius, almost no wind but light rain in parts of the
race Luke Kibet as well finished in a sub 1:13 time. The Kenyan clocked
1:12:52, followed by Benson Cherono (1:13:01), Titus Munji (1:13:32) and Joseph
Riri (1:13:35). The Kenyans took the first eleven places.
There was a Kenyan winner in the women’s race as well. Christine
Chepkonga was the first woman in the stadium clocking 1:25:34. The 25 year-old
was followed by Restituta Joseph (Tansania/1:27:09) and Irene Jerotich
(Kenya/1:29:23). “It was my very first race at this distance. And it was
my biggest win so far. That makes me very happy”, Chepkonga said. She is
married to her Dutch manager Eeuwe van der Meulen.
During the first half of the race Christine Chepkonga ran in a group with
Joseph and Jerotich, passing 10 k in 32:58. “After this I did not feel
that well but managed to hand on. Then at 19 k, when it was down to Restituta
and me, I realised that she was tiring. So I thought I should give it a try and
go for victory. It worked perfect for me”, Chepkonga said. She will
continue doing road races during the season, but no marathon. It is her aim to
run a fast 10 k time of sub 32 minutes..
But the main feature of the event that had more than 8,000 entries
altogether (there were races of shorter distances plus events for skaters) was
the men’s race. In contrast to last year there was high pace in the race
right from the start. 5 k were passed in 14:33 minutes, 10 k after 29:13. It
was during the next 5 k section that the first group was reduced to five
runners: Kosgei, Kibet, Cherono, Riri and Munji, who had been one of the pace
makers in Paul Tergat’s world record race at last year’s Berlin
Marathon. Munji had finished the race in third position with 2:06:15. These
five passed 15 k in 43:40 minutes.
So all that was needed for a new record was a 30 minute interval for the
last 10 k. But the course is uphill in parts of this section. Nonetheless apart
from two kilometres the pace remained high. It was at the end of an uphill
stretch just before the 20 k mark (58:21) when Paul Kosgei pushed and broke
away from his rivals. He then passed the half marathon point, which had an
official timing system, in 61:36 minutes. Kosgei was three seconds ahead of
Kibet and another three seconds ahead of Cherono.
It was only during last week that Kosgei had decided to come to Berlin for
the 25 k race. Originally it was not on his schedule which is why he had run a
15 k race in Lyon eight days earlier. He won that in 43:27 minutes. “I
then decided to go to Berlin because I hoped that there would be chance to
break the world record. I knew I was in very good form”, Kosgei said. The
25 k race has been the longest event he ever competed in. But after
today’s success the marathon is his next big target. “I used to be
a bit afraid of the marathon distance. But after todays experience I am really
confident. Because I felt very strong at the end of the race. I hope to be able
to break the marathon world record as well one day”, Kosgei said. He had
to fly back to Kenya in the evening, where he will prepare for the military
championships to be held on 22nd May. “I will either run the 5,000 or
10,000 metres. But the Olympics are not in my mind. Instead I will prepare for
the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and the run my first marathon in
October or November.”
“The introduction of world records for road events was an inspiration
for Paul to come to Berlin for this race. Because in comparison to the other
records this was the easiest mark to beat”, Renato Canova said. The
Italian from Turin is Kosgei’s coach. He is the coach of the world
steeplechase champion Said Saeed Shaheen as well.
“We are very happy with this event. It worked perfect in the
men’s race because there were a number of athletes who wanted to break
the world record. And they helped each other. It was perfect teamwork. I think
this new 25 k world record now is on a very high level”, Christoph Kopp
said. He is the elite race-director of the event. And being the president of
Berlin’s local athletics federation Kopp is involved in Berlin’s
bid for the IAAF World Championships in 2009 as well.
Results, Men: 1. Paul Kosgei KEN 1:12:45 2. Luke Kibet KEN 1:12:52 3. Benson
Cherono KEN 1:13:01 4. Titus Munji KEN 1:13:32 5. Joseph Riri KEN 1:13:35 6.
Jason Mbote KEN 1:14:44 7. Fred Mogaka KEN 1:15:55 8. Jacob Losian KEN 1:16:17
9. Yator Miningwo KEN 1:16:22 10. Sammy Kigen KEN 1:16:28 11. Richard Mutai KEN
Women: 1. Christine Chepkonga KEN 1:25:34 2. Restituta Joseph TAN 1:27:09 3.
Irene Jerotich KEN 1:29:23 4. Natalia Belova RUS 1:32:31 5. Ludmilla
Afoniouchkina RUS 1:33:32 6. Georgia Ampatzidou GRE 1:34:30 7. Carmen Siewert