Benita Johnson wins the 2007 Berlin Half in emphatic style (© Matthias Thiel / Vattenfall BERLIN HALF MARATHON)
Berlin, GermanyPatrick Makau Musyoki won the Vattenfall Berlin Half Marathon clocking the fourth fastest time ever run at this distance, disregrading times from courses that do not match criteria for records.
The 22-year-old Kenyan ran 58:56 minutes, improving last year’s course record of Paul Kosgei (Kenya) by eleven seconds. Only Sammy Wanjiru (Kenya/58:35 and 58:53) and Haile Gebrselassie (Ethiopia/58:55) have run faster. Two more Kenyans finished within 60 minutes in Berlin: Francis Kibiwott took second in 59:26 while Evans Cheruiyot was third with 59:48.
In fine weather conditions Benita Johnson became the first Australian to win the Berlin Half Marathon. Preparing for the London Marathon in three weeks time she clocked 68:28 minutes. Irina Mikitenko (Germany) took second place with 69:46 while Luminita Zaituc (Germany) was third in 71:56. Defending champion Edith Masai (Kenya) had to be content with fourth place, clocking 72:03. Both Zaituc and Masai suffered of stomach problems.
The men set off from the start in a blistering pace, covering the first kilometre in 2:34. They settled down a bit, but reached 5 k in 13:39 minutes. A group of seven runners then headed on for a 27:27 minutes split for 10 k – that was a time never achieved in any 10km race in Germany before. For example the course record of a Berlin international 10km race held annually in August is at 28:38.
But due to the high pace the leading group was reduced to four runners soon after that. Makau Musyoki, Cheruiyot, Kibiwott and Ethiopian Eshetu Wondimu, who later finished fourth (60:08), were those at the front. The pace slowed and Sammy Wanjiru’s World record of 58:35 minutes seemed to slip out of reach at 15km (41:46). But that changed again, when Makau Musyoki decisively broke away at 16km by increasing the pace again. He clocked 2:42 between 16 and 17 k. But in the final stages of the race there was a head wind which slowed the race.
“I’m happy to have broken the course record and very pleased with how things went for me in Berlin. The course is very good and I’m sure that the World record can be broken here. The first ten kilometres were run at a pace that was very good for me and the tailwind was also of a help, of course, as we went through in 27:27. We were all working for each other. But at the end the wind was sometimes quite strong”, said Patrick Makau Musyoki. His aim is now to qualify for the World Championships at 5000m.
In the women’s race the expected duel between Benita Johnson and Edith Masai seemed to be in action right after the start. Running a fine pace the Australian passed the 5km mark in 16:03 with Masai following her. It looked a similar scenario was unfolding as a year ago when Kastor led Masai, with the Kenyan passing her in the middle of the race to clock a course record of 67:16. But this time it was not to happen. At 9km, the defending champion Masai dropped back, leaving Johnson unchallenged with a lead of eleven seconds at 10km which she passed in 33:20. At that same 10km point Mikitenko was in second with Masai a further four seconds behind the German, who clocked her first sub 70 minute times.
While there were no changes in the first two positions from this point on, due to the wind during the second half of the race Johnson could not hold on to her pace. She passed 15k in 48:33 minutes.
“I am happy with my result and I very much liked the race and the support of the spectators. But it was a bit windy in the last part otherwise I could have gone faster”, said Benita Johnson.
Originally it had been her goal to break Kerryn McCann’s Australian record of 67:48 minutes. “I am a bit disappointed to have missed this and my personal best of 67:55 – but it is great to have won this race.”
Looking ahead to the London Marathon in three weeks she said: “I know this is a very strong field and one has to be able to run sub 2:20 to win. But I think I can do this.”
Irina Mikitenko was happy about her second place in a personal best. She said: “I was determined to run under 70 minutes and I achieved that. I’m delighted with second place but I know today that I can improve still further. I ran the whole distance on my own and at times the wind was really strong.”
Mikitenko is now planning her marathon debut and it seems likely that she will return to Berlin for that on 30 September.
Though suffering of stomach problems herself Luminita Zaituc managed to overtake the defending champion Edith Masai shortly before the finish. “I am really happy with a third place today”, Zaituc said. She will run the Düsseldorf Marathon on 6th May.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF
1. Patrick Makau Musyoki KEN 58:56
2. Francis Kibiwott KEN 59:26
3. Evans Cheruiyot KEN 59:48
4. Eshetu Wondimu ETH 60:08
5. Moses Kipsos Kigen KEN 60:39
6. Wilfred Taragon KEN 60:42
7. Mark Kipchumba KEN 62:02
8. Gezahegne Eshetu ETH 63:02
9. Paul Biwott KEN 63:02
10. Vincent Kropp KEN 63:27
1. Benita Johnson AUS 68:28
2. Irina Mikitenko GER 69:46
3. Luminita Zaituc GER 71:56
4. Edith Masai KEN 72:03
5. Susanne Pumper AUT 73:45
6. Susanne Hahn GER 75:09
7. Zivile Balciunaite LTU 76:38
8. Edyta Lewandowska POL 77:28