Paul Tergat of Kenya made a quantum leap in marathon running when he clocked
the first sub-2.05 in history, winning in Berlin this morning in 2.04.55. That
takes all of 43 seconds off American Khalid Khannouchi's previous record of
2.05.38, set in London 2002, when Tergat was second in 2.05.48.
Paced by half a dozen compatriots, on a perfect day with temperatures
ranging between 9 and 12 degrees centigrade, the 34 year old Kenyan was always
on course for a new record. But, in the end it was a tight victory for the man
who had not won in five previous starts. Tergat got away from his last
pacemaker with a kilometre to go, but Sammy Korir closed fast in the final
strides, and was only a second behind Tergat at the line, to take three and a
half minutes off his previous best, and become the second member of a very
elite club This is the third world record of Tergat's illustrious career.
The elegant and personable Kenyan, who won five successive world cross country
titles between 1995-9, set a 10,000 metres record of 26.27.85 in 1997, since
broken by his great rival Haile Gebrselassie, and ran the current half-marathon
record of 59.17 in Milan 1998. Tergat's run was extraordinary enough, but
40 year olds across to the world will rub their eyes at the feat of their peer,
Andres Espinosa. The Mexican finished fourth, and took over two minutes off the
veterans' or masters' record, with 2.08.46. The previous record was
2.11.04, by John Campbell of New Zealand.
Tergat, who won 120,000 euros, said he expected to break the record, but not
by so much. "I knew deep in my head that one day I would get this world
record, and today everything fell into place. It was a relief after training
for so long. But I couldn't believe the time, I thought I could maybe do
low 2.05, but 2.04 was fantastic".
This was another triumph for the Berlin organisers, whose superfast course
has now yielded four world records in the last five years, since Ronaldo da
Costa of Brazil cart-wheeled over the finish line in 2.06.05 in 1998. Tegla
Loroupe of Kenya broke her own world record the following year, with 2.20.43,
and that was improved to 2.19.46 in 2001, when Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi
of Japan became the first sub-2.20 woman.
Yasuko Hashimoto made it four in a row for Japanese runners in the Berlin
Marathon women's race this morning (Sunday), when she won in two hours,
26minutes, 32seconds (2.26.32). Hashimoto took over from long-time leader Alina
Ivanova of Russia at 35 kilometres, and was never challenged again. In only her
third marathon, Hashimoto improved her best from 2.29.37, set in Nagoya earlier
There was a tight finish in the men's wheelchair race between the two
giants of the sport - Joel Jeannot of France prevailing in the last 100 metres
over Heinz Frei of Switzerland.
MEN 1 Paul TERGAT KENYA 2.04.55 WORLD RECORD (Previous record, 2.05.38
Khalid Kannouchi USA, London 2002) 2 Sammy KORIR KENYA 2.04.56 3 Titus MUNJI
KENYA 2.06.15 4 Andres ESPINOSA MEXICO 2.08.46 WORLD MASTERS REC 5 Raymond
KIPKOECH KENYA 2.09.22 6 Kazuhira MATSUDA JAPAN 2.09.50 7 Kurao UMEKI JAPAN
2.09.52 8 Andre RAMOS BRAZIL 2.09.59 9 Makhosonke FIKA S AFRICA 2.10.16 10
Javier CABALLERO SPAIN 2.10.44