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BM 02: A blister for the winner

Kipkoech ran his fifth marathon

2002-09-30

Those of us who began long distance running in the days when rainers did not alternate as a fashion accessory will shudder to learn that Raymond Kipkoech ran the Berlin Marathon in new shoes on Sunday. Such is the science and soft fabric that goes into footwear nowadays, the only price the 23 year old Kenyan paid was a small blister which should, according to the race doctor clear up in a couple of days without treatment.

Kipkoech, who has only been running for three years or so, was abashed enough to declare that hell never commit that cardinal error again, until Olympic marathon champ, Naoko Takahashi assured him that she usually wears new shoes, but had chosen old ones this time, and suffered the same fate as Kipkoech, a victory and a blister. The result of which, one supposes is that the shoe manufacturers win whatever happens.

Takahashi, who won in 2.21.49 - over two minutes outside her world record here last year - and Kipkoech, for whom his 2.06.47 was a massive four minute improvement were at the Berlin farewell luncheon today, outlining their past and future. Although Takahashi is racing again on November 17, in the Tokyo Womens Marathon, which is a Japanese selection race for the World Championships next summer, she said that even if she won, she would still have to consult with her coach as to whether she would compete in Paris. However, after not racing since Berlin last year, her coach Yoshio Koide said he was more confident of the Tokyo outcome, "In Berlin, we feared for her after 35 kilometres, because she had not been able (due to injury) to train as hard as last year".

Contrary to previous reports, it turns out that Berlin was Kipkoechs fifth marathon. He made his debut in Torino 2000, running 2.10.52 in fifth place, has twice run Enschede (Netherlands), winning this April and finishing second in Los Angeles in March. His Berlin win puts him equal ninth on the all-time list, with the tenth fastest time (world record holder Khalid Kannouchi has the two best times). As for the new shoes, he said, "Now Ive heard you e not supposed to do it, I won do it again". Maybe this is a clue for the rest of the worlds marathoners to tell the Kenyans they e not supposed to win every race. Some hopes!

Pat Butcher


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