The Vattenfall BERLIN HALF MARATHON has confirmed ist position as one of the world’s leading races at the distance. It was Kenya’s Denis Koech, who upset his fellow countryman and reigning World Champion Wilson Kiprop, beating him by just one second with a world-class time of 59:14 minutes. With his first sub one hour time Koech placed himself among the 20 fastest half marathon runners ever. The women’s race also produced a thrilling sprint finish. Philes Ongori (Kenya) beat her fellow Kenyan Helah Kiprop by one second, winning in 68:25. A record number of 29,246 runners had entered the 32nd edition of the Vattenfall BERLIN HALF MARATHON.
Running against the wind during the first 10 k of the race the leading group of eight runners passed this mark slightly off pace. The split time at that point was 28:26 minutes while it had been planned to go through in 28:00. However in the second half of the race the pace picked up. With little more than three kilometres to go there were still five runners in the leading group, all of them Kenyans. It was then Denis Koech, who only ran his second race outside Kenya after taking the Ras Al Khaimah half marathon in February with 60:34 minutes, who surged ahead. He covered the next kilometre in a blistering 2:42, but that was still not enough to leave behind Wilson Kiprop. The World Champion held on, hoping to beat his rival in a sprint finish. But Denis Koech was able to put in yet another gear and there was no way past him when it came to the final 200 metres.
“I was not confident of beating the World Champion,” said Denis Koech, who is a training partner of the Boston- and New York Marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya). While Koech improved his personal best on the fast Berlin course by more than a minute it was also a personal record for Wilson Kiprop (59:15). For the first time in the history of the race five men clocked sub one hour times: Kenyans Ezekiel Chebii (59:22), Pius Kirop (59:25) and Paul Kipchumba (59:53) took third, fourth and fifth places. Koech’s winning time if the third fastest in the event’s history and the fourth fastest in the world this year.
The women’s race was an all Kenyan affair as well. Philes Ongori, Helah Kiprop and debutant Caroline Chepkwony ran together for almost the entire distance. It was only on the final two kilometres, when Chepkwony could no longer match the increasing pace of the other two. After a fascinating duel Ongori, the silver medallist from the World Half Marathon Championships in 2009, finally won with 68:25 minutes. Kiprop had to settle for second, but clocked a personal best of 68:26. Chepkwony followed in 68:36, making it three under 69 minutes for the first time in the event’s history. Karolina Jarzynska (Poland/70:56) took fourth place and Vicoty Chepkemoi (Kenya/71:12) was fifth. Sixth placed Andrea Mayr (Austria) ran a national record of 71:49 minutes.