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Save the Date September 29th 2019
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Haile shatters own world record in Berlin

Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia shattered his own marathon record in

the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON on Sunday morning, running 2:03:59, to

become the first man in history under 2:04 for the distance.

On a morning that he described as perfect, with sunshine and

temperatures rising from 10C (48F) at the 9 a.m. start, to 14C (55F) at

the finish, Gebrselassie followed a quartet of Kenyan pacemakers,

including Abel Kirui, who had finished second in the race last year.

The group of seven passed halfway in 62:04, 25 seconds faster than in

2007.

The 35 year old Ethiopian also had a couple of

Kenyan rivals for company. Charles Kamathi was the more intriguing,

since he had ended Geb’s lengthy domination of the IAAF World

Championships 10,000 metres. Geb won in 1993/95/97/99, but Kamathi

relegated him to third in Edmonton 2001.

However,

Kamathi dropped away before the final pacemaker, Kirui, at 35

kilometres, and it was left to the unlikely James Kwambai, whose best

was 2:10:20 , to threaten Geb a little longer.

But the

contest was effectively over by 37 kilometres, as Kwambai relented, and

the tiny Ethiopian was free to enjoy the enthusiasm of the huge crowd,

who have been spoiled by six world records on the fast flat course in

the last decade.

This is Gebrselassie’s 26 th world

record in a career that has lasted close to 20 years thus far, and the

time improves by almost half a minute the world record of 2:04:26 that

he set in Berlin one year ago. It is exactly five years ago, in this

same race that Gebrselassie’s great rival, Paul Tergat of Kenya ran

2:04:55, to become the first sub-2:05 man. Thus in two stages in

successive years, Gebrselassie has taken almost a minute off that

record, and taken it into new territory.

Another measure

of just how much the marathon has improved since top track runners such

as Tergat and Gebrselassie have assaulted it may be gleaned from a

further bit of Berlin history. When Ronaldo da Costa of Brazil ran the

first men’s world record here in 1998, it was 2:06:05.

“I’m so happy,” said Gebrselassie immediately afterwards. “Everything

was perfect, the weather, the pacemakers. Two weeks ago, I had a little

problem, I ran a 20k forty seconds faster than in my preparation last

year. But I had some cramps, and missed a week’s training. I started

again a week ago, and had some doubts today, but in the end, everything

was fine. This really is my lucky city”.

Gebreselassie

also becomes the first man to win Berlin three times, and this latest

victory with bonuses nets him €130,000 plus undisclosed appearance

fees. Kwambai held on for second place in 2:05:36, close to five

minutes off his best, and Kamathi was third in 2:07:48.

Irina Mikitenko of Germany won the women’s race in 2:19:19, improving

her best by over four minutes, breaking the national record and

becoming the first German woman under 2:20. Mikitenko, 36, ran a superb

tactical race. She let Askale Tafa of Ethiopia, Rose Cheruiyot and

Helena Kiprop of Kenya race into a long lead, before pegging them back

just after 30 kilometres. In the end, she was over two minutes ahead of

Tafa, second in 2:21:31, also a personal best. Third was Kiprop in

2:25:01.

Mikitenko, originally from Kazakhstan, but a

German national since 1996 has had a golden year, apart from missing

the Olympic Games with a back injury. She finished second to Gete Wami

of Ethiopia in Berlin 2007, becoming the fastest German marathon

debutante, with 2:24:51.

She was a surprise winner of

the London Marathon, improving to 2:24:14, and relegating Wami to

third. Now she has taken close to five minutes off that best, and with

50 points from two victories, heads the women’s section of the World

Marathon Majors, the five-event series – Boston, London, Berlin,

Chicago and New York – which carries a biennial prize of half a million

dollars for the men’s and women’s winners.

 

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