Gebrselassie takes fourth Berlin Marathon title

09/21/2009 - 15:43

Gebrselassie_Haile-Berlin09rn-9-22-09.jpgfrom IAAF - Berlin, Germany - Haile Gebrselassie took the real,- Berlin Marathon in 2:06:08, missing his own world record of 2:03:59 after slowing considerably during the final seven kilometres today.

But the great Ethiopian still broke a World record in the German capital*. He had passed the 30km mark in 1:27:49. This time is still unofficial since official hand timing results were not available immediately after the race. Berlin race director Mark Milde had foreseen the possibility of a 30km record and had placed official timekeepers at that mark.

The real,- Berlin-Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Race.

While Haile Gebrselassie became the first runner to win the Berlin Marathon for a fourth time (Uta Pippig, Renata Kokowska and Ingo Sensburg have three wins) Atsede Besuye made it an Ethiopian double triumph in Berlin. She took the women's race in a personal best of 2:24:47. Silvia Skvortsova (Russia) finished second with 2:26:24, while Mamitu Daska (Ethiopia) took third in her debut in 2.26:38.

The much anticipated duel between Duncan Kibet (Kenya), who remained the world leader this year with his 2:04:27 from Rotterdam, and Haile Gebrselassie had come to an early end, when the Kenyan dropped out after 30k. He had lost contact with the World record holder earlier in the race.

A record number of 40,923 runners from 122 nations had entered the 36th edition of the Berlin Marathon. Around one million spectators lined the streets. Weather conditions were very good for much of the race, though it got warm during the final stages with temperatures above 20° Celsius in the sun.

Men’s Race: Haile on World record pace for long period

A group of seven pacemakers guided the two favourites Haile Gebrselassie and Duncan Kibet to split times that were well in schedule for a World record. The leading group passed 10km in 29:15 and 15 k in 43:58 minutes. This pace as well as the half marathon time of 61:44 minutes was good for an estimated finish of 2:03:30. But before the half way point was reached there was a surprise. From 19 kilometres onwards Duncan Kibet could no longer keep up with the speed of the leading group. He dropped back further and further and finally ended his race at the 32km point. Kibet suffered a hip problem which he developed during the race.

But Kibet’s problems had no influence on the pace of the leading group. Especially Kenyan half marathon runners John Kales and Sammy Kosgei did a great job, constantly clocking kilometre splits of around 2:55, 2:56 minutes.

The 30km point was reached after 1:27:49. While Kales had stopped his pacemaking job at 29km Kosgei carried on to 32km. It was shortly afterwards when Gebrselassie suddenly ran into problems, which had nothing to do with the withdrawal of the pacers. The Ethiopian’s step looked much more heavy during the final seven kilometres. Now Gebrselassie needed well over three minutes for a kilometre. The 40th kilometre was probably the slowest he ever ran in a marathon: 3:19 minutes.

But at that time the World record had been out of reach for a while.

“Already after 33 kilometres I knew that I would not be able to break my world record today," confirmed the winner. "It simply got too warm. Suddenly I felt very tired, although I had been very well prepared for this race. But I have learnt today that it is not possible to run a World record in temperatures of 17 degrees Celsius or more. It may have been a bit of a mental problem as well. My head said to my body that it is getting too hard now. It felt as if I would run into unknown territory,” confirmed Gebrselassie, who earned 50,000 Euros for the win plus 30,000 of time bonuses.

Then he turned to Mark Milde and said: “If Mark would allow me to come back next year I will be back!”

Asked if he might give up on attempting to attack his World record in future Gebrselassie answered: “Come on, this is not a serious question. I will not stay home and sleep!” Talking about his future goals before the race Haile Gebrselassie had said: “I want to further improve my World record and win the gold at the London Olympics in 2012.”

Francis Kiprop meanwhile had shown a very strong race in Berlin on Sunday, when he was the fastest runner of the field in the second half. He covered this part in 62:46 minutes and achieved a personal best of 2:07:04. After the 35km mark it looked as if Kiprop might be even in for a major upset. At 25km he had still been 2:28 minutes behind Gebrselassie, but at 35km the Ethiopian’s advantage had been cut to 1:35. But then Kiprop could not quite keep his pace as well and so in the finish 56 seconds separated the two. Though when Gebrselassie learnt at the press conference how well Kiprop had done he congratulated Francis Kiprop and said: “You should have run with me!”

“Running in the chasing group we were a bit too slow in the first part, so I was not able to catch Haile,” said 27-year-old Kiprop. “But nontheless I am satisfied, because I clocked a personal best.” The Kenyan had travelled to Berlin with a PB of 2:08:30.

Women’s Race: Ethiopians dominate, but not Magarsa

As expected the Ethiopian women dominated the race in Berlin. But as in the men’s race there was an unexpected casualty of a favourite: Ethiopia’s Askale Tafa Magarsa, who had clocked a PB of 2:21:31 behind Irina Mikitenko (Germany) in last year’s race in Berlin, and at first had been in the leading group. But at half way she was already more than a minute behind. Shortly afterwards she dropped out. The three Ethiopian leaders – Genet Getaneh, Atsede Besuye and Mamitu Daska – reached that point in 1:12:29.

After the 30km mark Mamitu Daska dropped back first, then five kilometres later Besuye was all on her own, when she had left Getaneh behind as well. The 21-year-old took the race with a personal best of 2:24:47.

There was plenty of action behind her, where Russia’s Silvia Skvortsova made up a lot of ground and came through to second in 2:26:24. While Mamitu Daska was third (2:26:38) Italy’s Rosaria Console also finished strongly, taking fourth place with 2:26:45. The first four women clocked personal bests.

"I am happy to have reached my goal and achieved a time of sub 2:25. From 30 k onwards I had problems with my left big toe, but despite this I felt strong and confident,” said Atsede Besuye.

Jörg Wenig for the IAAF

*World record subject to usual ratification procedures


1. Haile Gebrselassie ETH 2:06:08
2. Francis Kiprop KEN 2:07:04
3. Negari Terfa ETH 2:07:41
4. Dereje Debele Tulu ETH 2:09:41
5. Alfred Kering KEN 2:09:52
6. Girma Assefa ETH 2:09:58
7. Eshetu Wondimu ETH 2:12:28
8. Atsushi Fujita JPN 2:12:54

1. Atsede Besuye ETH 2:24:47
2. Silvia Skvortsova RUS 2:26:24
3. Mamitu Daska ETH 2:26:38
4. Rosaria Console ITA 2:26:45
5. Genet Getaneh ETH 2:27:09
6. Leah Malot KEN 2:29:17

World Marathon Majors
Standings of the 2009-2010 Series:

1. Samuel Wanjiru KEN 65 points
2. Haile Gebrselassie ETH 50
3. Tsegaye Kebede ETH 35
4. Deribe Merga ETH 30
5. Emmanuel Mutai KEN 26
Martin Lel KEN 26
Robert K. Cheruiyot KEN 26

1. Irina Mikitenko GER 75 points
2. Dire Tune ETH 40
3. Salina Kosgei KEN 30
Alvetina Biktimirova RUS 30
Constantina Dita ROM 30
6. Xue Bai CHI 25
Lidiya Grigoryeva RUS 25
Paula Radcliffe GBR 25
Atsede Besuye ETH 25

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