Once again a major road race in Berlin has showed that the streets of the
German capital seem to be ideal for running world class times. It was only five
weeks ago when Fabián Roncero of Spain broke the hour in the Berlin Half
Marathon and set the fastest time of the year for the distance (59:52). In that
race Rodgers Rop came in third with 60:57 minutes. Now the Kenyan came back to
Berlin and achieved a world best time. The 25-year-old won the 21st 25 km von
Berlin with 1:13:44 hours, lowering the world best time by eleven seconds.
Joseph Kariuki (Kenya) had run 1:13:55 in Michigan in 1998. Magdaline Chemjor
made it a Kenyan double, winning in 1:25:11. 5,277 runners from 46 nations
competed in the traditional race, which was once established by the French
allied forces in West Berlin and then called 25 km de Berlin.
“I did not expect that the race would become that fast”, Rodgers
Rop said, who belongs to Volker Wagner’s Detmold based training group
along with Tegla Loroupe and Joyce Chepchumba. For Rop, who earned 8500 German
marks (about 4000 US Dollar) for his achievement in Berlin, it is the first
season out of Kenya. For both winners it was their first 25 k race and the
longest race they have been in yet. Of course there are few international 25 k
races so that the records are considered easier than others. The distance has
lost importance since the IAAF staged the first Half Marathon World
Championships in 1992.
But still, Berlin saw another great race although this time the weather was
not perfect for African runners. With 9 ° Celsius and a side wind it felt
quite chilly and second placed Restituta Joseph (Tanzania/1:26:20) was among
those suffering from muscle problems. The men set a moderate pace taking into
account that the loop course drops for the first couple of kilometres. After 10
k was reached in 30:03 Rop and John Yuda (Tanzania) strongly picked up the
pace, leaving the rest of the field well behind. It was only in the last 1000
metres of the race, that had to finish outside the Olympic Stadium this year
due to the rebuilding of the arena, that Rop could open a gap between him an
Yuda. The Tanzanian also ran a first class time (1:13:56) and then was so tired
that he fell asleep during the press conference an hour later! While Yuda slept
Rodgers Rop announced he would like to return to Berlin for a third time this
year to run his marathon debut on 30th September. “He was feeling
comfortable with the fast pace so he should be able to run a good
marathon”, Volker Wagner said.
While the race organisers had invited one of Kenya’s fathers of
running, Brother Colm O’Connell, as a guest of honour he did not come
alone. And eventually Brother Colm brought the winner. For 22-year-old
Magdaline Chemjor it was her biggest win so far. “She did not run until
she was 17. It was then when she came to Iten and stayed for two years.
Afterwards I continued coaching her. And she has become a professional
runner”, Brother Colm said. None of her nine siblings has taken up
Magdaline’s sport although the inspiration is on their doorstep: Paul
Tergat owns the neighbouring farm of Magdaline Chemjor’s parents.
Men: 1. Rodgers Rop KEN 1:13:44, 2. John Yuda TAN 1:13:56, 3. John Nada TAN
1:15:13, 4. Fred Getange KEN 1:15:15, 5. Artur Osman POL 1:15:25, 6. Hillary
Lelei KEN 1:16:23, 7. Wilson Pkanaka KEN 1:17:07, 8. Jean Paul Niyonsaba BUR
1:17:22, 9. Philip Rist SUI 1:17:39, 10. Dimitri Kapitonov RUS 1:18:24, 11.
John Mutai KEN 1:18:38, 12. Filippo Lazzara ITA 1:18:47.
Women: 1. Magdaline Chemjor KEN 1:25:11, 2. Restituta Joseph TAN 1:26:20, 3.
Jacquline Jerutich KEN 1:27:06, 4. Ornella Ferrara ITA 1:27:21, 5. Dorota Gruca
POL 1:28:27, 6. Ljudmila Afonjuschkina RU 1:28:49, 7. Helen Chepngeno KEN
1:29:42, 8. Annette Wolfrom GER 1:32:15.