2:04:26! Haile Gebrselassie at the line in Berlin (© Victah Sailer)
Haile Gebrselassie finally fulfilled the first one of his two big marathon dreams: The 34-year-old Ethiopian broke the World record at the real,- Berlin-Marathon, clocking 2:04:26. It was Paul Tergat (Kenya) who had run 2:04:55 in 2003 in Berlin.
“It was something very special today, because this is the marathon world record!” said Gebrselassie after improving the World Marathon record by 29 seconds. “That is something different in comparison to the 5,000 or 10,000m, because the Marathon is the king of the distance races.” The two-time Olympic 10,000m champion has now broken 24 World records or world bests.
Gebrselassie produced the absolute highlight at Germany’s biggest and most spectacular Marathon for which 40,215 runners from 115 nations had entered. About one million spectators cheered on the Ethiopian.
“The spectators gave me more support than last year. I have to say thank you Germany! Today the weather was perfect, it was not as windy as last year,” said Gebrselassie, who will target his next big Marathon goal next year, when he will run the Olympic race in Beijing.
Not only Gebrselassie but Gete Wami also defended her title in Berlin in ideal weather conditions. The Ethiopian clocked 2:23:17 to complete yet another double win in Berlin after 2006. But the real surprise came in second place, which featured a great debut by Irina Mikitenko. She clocked 2:24:51, which is the best ever Marathon debut by a German woman. She is now the third fastest on the German all-time list behind Uta Pippig (2:21:45) and Katrin Dörre-Heinig (2:24:35).
Gebrselassie on WR pace from the gun
Led by pacemakers, Gebrselassie was on course for the World record throughout. He went through halfway in 62:29. His rivals couldn’t match that kind of pace from the very start leaving Gebrselassie in a race of his own through the streets of Berlin. Up to the 30 kilometre point two of the original five pacemakers were able to stay with him. But then both Eshetu Wondimu (Ethiopia) and Rodgers Rop (Kenya), the latter winner of this year’s Hamburg marathon in 2:07:32 and a former champion in New York and Boston, dropped out.
Last year Gebrselassie also had to run the last 12 kilometres on his own – and finished 61 seconds outside the World record (2:05:56). It didn’t happen this time. He was much more consistent in his running over the 42.195km, never dropping outside three minutes per kilometre. And without pacemakers Gebrselassie ran the last 12 kilometres of the race considerably faster than before. The individual kilometre splits for this section of the race were appreciably under 3:00 minutes. Kilometre 35 was his fastest of the entire race in 2:50.
Tergat calls to offer congratulations, Gebrselassie apologises
Shortly after Gebrselassie crossed the finish line, race director Mark Milde’s phone rang. Tergat was on the line, and he wanted to congratulate Haile. “Paul is a good friend and I apologized to him for taking his World record,” Gebrselassie explained. His total winnings from Berlin were 130,000 Euros. “But I don’t run for money. If I did, I could race somewhere every week,” said Gebrselassie.
The Kenyan Abel Kirui was second in an outstanding personal best of 2:06:51. Third place went to his compatriot Salim Kipsang in 2:07:29. The best German finisher was Falk Cierpinski (SG Spergau) who crossed the line in 23rd place. The son of the double Olympic champion Waldemar Cierpinski ran a personal best in 2:19:06.
Wami aggressive from the start as well
In the women’s race Gete Wami, like Gebrselassie, went clear of her rivals from the start. The Ethiopian, who ran a national record of 2:21:34 a year ago in Berlin but lost it in the meantime to Berhane Adere, also had an escort of pacemakers. After reaching halfway in 70:25 she did just enough to be assured the victory. Five weeks from now Wami will be on the start line for the marathon in New York.
Wami is shooting for the jackpot in the World Marathon Majors series for 2006-07. Following her win in Berlin she has taken the lead from Latvian Jelena Prokupcuka. If she finishes ahead of the Latvian in New York, she’ll win 500,000 dollars.
“I was very confident before the race that I was in good shape. I’ll take it easy for a week and then start training for New York – I think I’ve a real chance of winning the WMM jackpot,” Wami said.
The outcome of the race for second place was more dramatic. Well behind Wami after the second half were Helena Kiprop of Kenya and the Japanese Naoko Sakamoto (both at 72:31). A further 26 seconds behind was a trio including Mikitenko. On her Marathon debut she ran an outstanding second half to move up to second. She ran the second half in 1:11:54, covering the second half faster than the first on her debut attempt at the distance. That shows she could run faster still in the Marathon, an event for which she now has an Olympic qualifying time.
Jörg Wenig with assistance from Andy Edwards for the IAAF
* pending the usual ratification procedures
1. Haile Gebrselassie ETH 2:04:26
2. Abel Kirui KEN 2:06:51
3. Salim Kipsang KEN 2:07:29
4. Philip Manyim KEN 2:08:01
5. Mesfin Adimasu ETH 2:09:49
6. Lee Troop AUS 2:10:31
7. Arkadiusz Sowa POL 2:12:00
8. Joseph Kahugu KEN 2:12:08
9. Tomohiro Seto JPN 2:12:21
10. Ignacio Caceres ESP 2:12:46
1. Gete Wami ETH 2:24:26
2. Irina Mikitenko GER 2:24:51
3. Helena Kirop KEN 2:26:27
4. Irina Timofeyeva RUS 2:26:54
5. Naoko Sakamoto JPN 2:28:33
6. Hayley Haining GBR 2:30:43
7. Rose Nyangacha KEN 2:31:33
8. Leonor Carneiro POR 2:31:41
9. Angeline Flueckiger-Joly SUI 2:35:57
10. Eva-Maria Gradwohl AUS 2:36:21
2006-07 WORLD MARATHON MAJORS POINTS
LEADING POINTS STANDINGS
1. Robert K. Cheruiyot, KEN, 75
2. Haile Gebrselassie, ETH, 50
3. Martin Lel, KEN, 40
4. Felix Limo, KEN, 35
5. Stephen Kiogora, KEN, 25
5. Marilson Gomes dos Santos, BRA, 25
5. Luke Kibet, KEN, 25
1. Gete Wami, ETH, 65
1. Jelena Prokopcuka, LAT, 55
3. Chunxiu Zhou, CHN, 40
4. Rita Jeptoo, KEN, 35
4. Catherine Ndereba, KEN, 35
6. Berhane Adere, ETH, 30
7. Deena Kastor, USA, 26
7. Lidiya Grigoryeva, RUS, 26
9. Salina Kosgei, KEN, 20
9. Reiko Tosa, JPN, 20
2007-08 WORLD MARATHON MAJORS
LEADING POINTS STANDINGS
1. Robert K. Cheruiyot, KEN, 25 Points
1. Martin Lel, KEN, 25
1. Haile Gebrselassie, ETH, 25
1. Luke Kibet, KEN, 25
5. James Kwambai, KEN, 15
5. Abderrahim Goumri, ETH, 15
5. Abel Kirui, KEN, 15
5. Mubarak Hassan Shami, QAT, 15
1. Gete Wami, ETH, 40
1. Chunxiu Zhou, CHN, 40
3. Lidiya Grigoryeva, RUS, 25
3. Catherine Ndereba, KEN, 25
5. Jelena Procopcuka, LAT, 15
5. Irina Mikitenko, GER, 15