Ethiopia's world 5,000m and 10,000m record holder, Kenenisa Bekele, missed the world record by an agonising six seconds as he outpaced Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang to win the BMW Berlin Marathon yesterday (Sunday 25 September). Bekele used his track speed to great effect as he accelerated clear of Kipsang in an epic duel to win the 43rd edition of this Abbott World Marathon Major race.
Berlin Marathon started in 1974 with 286 runners and since 1990 – almost a year after the Berlin Wall fell – the course has united both sides of the German capital, passing many historic landmarks such as the Reichstag, Potsdamer Platz, Berliner Dom and the iconic Brandenburg Gate just before the finish.
The course has always been fast but with a time limit of 6hrs 15mins and an entry of 41,283 runners from 122 countries it is a wonderful opportunity for mere mortals to rub shoulders with the elite. Sunday’s race was brutal as the initial 5k was completed in 14:20 (sub-2 hour pace) and halfway - with eight runners still in contention - flashed by in 61:11 (2:02:22 pace), well inside the world record schedule of Dennis Kimetto, who ran 2:02:57 in Berlin in 2014.
It was Kipsang who was the aggressor at 30k and Bekele was the only athlete able to go with the searing pace set by the former world record holder (2:03:23, Berlin 2013). The final kilometre saw a rejuvenated Bekele belie his 34 years as he raced ahead to record an Ethiopian record and the second fastest ever on 2:03:03. Kipsang ran the equal fourth fastest ever (2:03:13) and the average of the 10 best men’s times recorded at Berlin improved to an incredible 2:03:35!
Pre-race favourite, Aberu Kebede of Ethiopia, claimed her third victory (2:20:45) to come home more than three minutes clear of compatriot Birhane Dibaba in the women's race.
Hundreds of British runners were in the field and the best of the men was Paul Martelletti (Run Fast/Victoria Park Harriers) who was 20th in 2:16:58. Gladys Ganiel (W35, 2:39:10), of North Belfast, was the leading woman from the UK. Many British athletes travelled with Sports Tours International who organise trips to all the major running events and some more exotic challenges.
Full results and more information on the BMW Berlin Marathon website.
Image courtesy Sports Tours International