Sunday April 5th, 2020
Distance: Half Marathon
The story of the Berlin Half Marathon reflects a major part of the history of the German capital. It all began during cold war times and continued during reunification. The events leading up to today's event could really only have happened in this city. Its predecessors came from East- and West Berlin.
On 29th November 1981 the Lichtenberg Marathon was staged in East-Berlin. It was the first real city race in the capital of East Germany. This race was one year later succeeded by the "Berliner Friedenslauf" (Berlin Peace Run), which covered various distances up to a marathon. The Friedenslauf was the biggest road race in the former GDR. While in former years the East German government had shown no interest in city races, that attitude changed, when big and spectacular city races developed in western countries. Races like the New York City Marathon or the BERLIN MARATHON in the western part of the city were successful. So the government decided that it would be good to have a big race as well and as usual in those times it was dedicated to peace. For the runners the motto did not matter. They were just happy to finally get what they had asked for for many years.
Over the last five years the winning time has been under one hour. The course record for men was set in 2007 (58:56 by Patrick Musyoki from Kenya). The women's record is 1:07:16 in 2006 by Edith Masai from Kenya.
The Berlin Half Marathon is well on the way to become a race with a similar reputation as the BMW BERLIN MARATHON.
|2nd Male||01:01:01||Kilimo Rhonzas||KEN|
|3rd Male||01:01:02||Alfred Ngeno||KEN|
|4th Male||01:01:20||Cheshari Jacob||KEN|
|2nd Female||01:08:51||Veronica Nyaruai||KEN|
|3rd Female||01:09:02||Zelamawit Bayoulgn||ETH|
|4th Female||01:09:40||Naumi Vaati||KEN|
(2018) Kenya’s newcomer Erick Kiptanui clocked a sensational course record of 58:42 in the Berlin Half Marathon, equalling the fastest time in the world this year. Running only his third race in Europe and winning for the third time, Kiptanui moved to equal fifth in the all-time performances for the distance. His impressive running on Berlin’s fast course left him just 19 seconds short of the world record.
Kenyans dominated the event and took the first seven places. Emmanuel Kiprono and Richard Mengich finished second and third with 60:29 and 60:36 respectively. The best non-Kenyan runner was Germany’s Homiyu Tesfaye who took eighth place in 62:13.
Ethiopia’s Melat Kejeta won the women’s race in sunny but windy conditions with 69:04. Switzerland’s Martina Strähl was second and set a Swiss record of 69:29, improving her personal best by more than two minutes. Anne-Mari Hyryläinen of Finland took third with 71:04, also setting a personal best. At her second attempt the European steeplechase champion Gesa Felicitas Krause of Germany finished the distance for the first time and placed fifth. Her time of 72:16 was the fastest time by a German woman this year.
A race record of 36,000 athletes entered the 38th edition of the biggest and highest quality German half marathon, taking into account the events held in conjunction with the main race. Around 250,000 spectators lined the course.
Erick Kiptanui and his fellow Kenyan Vincent Kipchumba, the latter acting as pacemaker, established a clear lead in the early kilometres. Aided by a tailwind, they reached 10km in a super-fast 27:32 which was on course to break the world record of 58:23. “It was my plan to run fast since I knew that the Berlin course is flat,” explained Erick Kiptanui, who is coached by the renowned Italian trainer Renato Canova. Once Kipchumba had dropped out between 12 and 13 kilometres and the course ran into a headwind, Kiptanui was forced to slacken his pace but he clearly showed he has the potential to become the next top Kenyan marathon runner. “I shall definitely continue to run on the road and plan to make my marathon debut,” said Kiptanui, who had concentrated on running 1500m in the early years of his career.
Homiyu Tesfaye’s experience in Berlin did not live up to expectations. The 24-year-old had intended to attack the German record of 60:34 but his finishing time of 62:13 was still a decent performance. “Unfortunately I couldn’t reproduce the form I had been showing in training today,” said Tesfaye, who had also been suffering with a cold recently. “But I’m happy overall, it’s my second fastest half marathon after all. I’ll continue to run half marathons in future.”
Melat Kejeta ran unchallenged to victory in the women’s race in 69:04. “After ten kilometres I didn’t feel that great because I have a cold and was running into a headwind,” explained the Ethiopian runner who has lived in Kassel in Germany for four years. She has applied for German citizenship and hopes to run for Germany in the foreseeable future.
The European steeplechase champion Gesa Krause ran a solid, even-tempo race and finished the leading German in fifth. Just over a year ago she dropped out of her first attempt at a half marathon in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. “I felt good in the race today and enjoyed it. But it’s new territory for me, of course,” reflected Gesa Krause, who will now turn her attentions to the 3,000m steeplechase and her defence of the European title in Berlin this summer. “It’s certainly possible that I’ll return to the Berlin Half Marathon,” said Krause, who ran over half the distance with Katharina Heinig. They train together and Heinig finished two places behind in seventh. “I’m happy to have set a personal best but not everything went right. I really wanted to run 70 minutes,” said Katharina Heinig, who is the daughter of the former world class marathoner Kathrin Dörre-Heinig.