Kenya’s Mutai holds on to win Berlin marathon
KENYAN favourite Geoffrey Mutai survived a brave challenge by compatriot and marathon debutant Dennis Kimetto to win the Berlin marathon yesterday but narrowly failed in his quest to break the world record.
Mutai’s time of two hours, four minutes and 15 seconds on the fastest of the big city courses was more than half a minute slower than the world record set by compatriot Patrick Makau in the German capital last year.
His victory gave him an unassailable lead in the world marathon majors series, which awards points during a two-year cycle from finish positions in the Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York marathons, with a $1m jackpot split between the men’s and women’s winners.
"I had the chance to break the world record but after 35km I had stomach cramps and I decided to maintain the pace," Mutai told reporters after the race.
"I thank God for winning this race and it was possible to break the world record but I tried even though I could not move."
Kenya swept the podium spots yesterday with another marathon debutant, 19-year-old Geoffrey Kipsang, finishing in third place one minute and 57 seconds behind the winner.
In the women’s race, Ethiopia clinched a one-two double with pre-race favourite Aberu Kebede winning her second Berlin marathon, in 2:20.30.
Her training partner, Tirfi Tsegaye, was second (2:21.19) with Ukraine’s Olena Shurhno in third place (2:23.32).
On a warm and sunny European autumn morning more than 1-million fans lined the streets of Berlin to see race favourite Mutai make a bid for the world record after his failure to make the London Olympics in August.
Mutai bettered the world mark in winning the Boston marathon last year but his time of 2:03.02 was not recognised because the course does not meet the criteria required for world records.
Yesterday, Mutai pulled away with a group of five runners from the start, including a stubborn Kimetto, running his first competitive marathon.
The Kenyan duo were joined from the start by Kipsang — also making his marathon debut — and Jonathan Mayo, whose personal best of 2:04.56 set in Dubai put him firmly among the pre-race favourites in Berlin.
The group’s time, after a surprisingly bad run between kilometres five and 10, hinted at the 30km mark that the world record was slowly slipping away, with their time half a minute off Makau’s pace last year.
Mutai upped the tempo shortly after, pulling away from the rest but with Kimetto, who was looking for a Berlin treble after winning the half-marathon and 25km races there, hanging on.
Kimetto remained a menacing presence after he survived another Mutai attempt to shake him off at the 40km mark.
"I was not expecting to finish close to him since I knew I could not beat him," said Kimetto.
"But I am happy with my run and in future I will try for the world record," he said.
Going into the final stretch and through the Brandenburg Gate, Kimetto — who clocked the fastest marathon debut yet — had no reserves to launch a final challenge, with Mutai clinging on for victory. Reuters
I had the chance to break the world record but … I had stomach cramps