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Storms, Cold, Snow, and Sun at the Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON 2003

A special HALF MARATHON with April weather

2003-04-07

The April weather lived up to its name: Cold temperatures between –2 and -4 degrees, storms that almost blew away the starting gate structure, then sunshine followed by heavy snow, and, as the victors crossed the finish, sun again. The athletes were more concerned with the weather than with themselves. Nonetheless, about 100,000 spectators on the streets of Berlin and lots of music on the sidelines created a wonderful atmosphere.

With a record field of a total of 17,692 participants from 63 countries, the HALF MARATHON, Germanys largest and fastest half marathon continued to write its success story. On this day and race, improvisation was everything for the organisers from SCC-RUNNING. As heavy storms on Saturday had blown down the 44 tents that the German Red Cross had set up for changing, locker areas, and showers, the event organisers had to come up with alternatives. These were found in the meeting area of the Berlin-Mitte fire department station in Voltairestrasse, as well as in the trade fair tents of the organisers and outside in the open.

The times for the inline skaters suffered more from the strong wind than those of the runners, as no one wanted to pick up the pace against the wind. The women fought out a sprint at the finish, which was won by last years victor Silvia Nino from Columbia in 44:41, with the same finishing time as but slightly ahead of Tina Strüver from Halle and Jana Gegner (Roces Team). The male champion, also last years champion, Kalon Dobbin from New Zealand, won a strong solo race in 37:21, well ahead of a Siebener Group with Shane Dobbin (New Zealand) in 38:13, Wouter Hebbrecht (Belgium) in 38:13 and Rasmus Steffensen (Denmark) in 38:14.

Mark Milde, the man in charge of securing the top runners and skaters, was nonetheless satisfied with the race: “We were lucky to have dry surfaces – although it didn get better for the skaters—but we didn have any major incidents. “

Paul Kirui (Kenya) ran the second fastest time of the year in 61:05. Up to the 10 km mark, together with James Kwambai (Kenya), he had been running a course record time with a time of 29:01. The European Champion from Finland, Janne Holmen, had been leading at km 3 in 9:07, when the “Kenyan Express“ took off, regularly clocking kilometre times of under 3 minutes. Had there been normal temperatures and no wind, the course record of Fabian Roncero (Spain) of 59:52 (2001) would surely have been broken. Second place Robert Cheboror (KEN) in 61:55 and third place James Kwambai (KEN) in 61.56 became 15th and 16th in the 2003 world best times. 4th place went to Isaac Macharia (KEN) 62:36, 5th Christopher Torotich (KEN) 63:00, 6th Chistopher Kandie (KEN) 63:39, 7th former world champion Moses Tanui (KEN) 63:40, 9th Jannes Holmen (FIN) 64:20.

The best Germans: 16th place Holger Zobries (Cottbus) 67 :19, 19. Marco Kolmorgen (Hamburg) 70:00 – Best Berliner: 25th place Holger Trapp-Opitz 71:03. The expected favourite, Rodger Rop, did not start due to health reasons.

Magdeline Chemjor (KEN) secured her third victory in Berlin for the women. She won the 25 km race in Berlin twice, was recently 5th at the Cross Country World Championships, and won the HALF MARATHON easily in 71:12 ahead of Lenah Cheruiyot (KEN) in 72:00, - 3rd was Carmen Siewert (Greifswald) 73:55, - 4th Serap Aktas (Turkey) 75:07 – 5th Zivile Balciunaite (Lithuania) – 6th Sylvia Renz (OSC Berlin) 75:56.

The favourite, Joyce Chepchumba (KEN), did not start. There was a rarity in the wheelchair race: The womens champion, Yvonne Sehmisch (Cottbus), who already won in 2001 and 2002, won ahead of the men in 64:30. Mathias Sinang (Halle) finished in 76:25 and won the mens race – 2nd place Abdu Fadakaraslemarenir (Berlin) 79:44 – 3rd Michael Fiddeke (Bernau) 1:24:45 and 4th Sirko Wehr (Berlin) 1:38:44.

Statistics from the German Red Cross: First Aid was administered 172 times, of which 5 required admittance to hospitals (3 collapses, 1 shoulder injury and 1 head injury). According to the head of the unit Ronald Riege: “Nothing too serious.“

The event organisers of SCC-RUNNING would especially like to thank the Berlin police department, who made sure that the participants made it safely through the city, to the Berlin fire department for their uncomplicated help, and the German Red Cross for their successful work.

Horst Milde, the Race Director of the largest Berlin race, was satisfied with the race, and despite all of the difficulties made the prediction: “Next year at the 24th Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON, the “20,000 barrier“ will be broken and we will order better weather.“


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