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Top female runners and new partnerships

BMW Berlin Marathon

Aberu Kebede from Ethiopia will be leading the field of the top female runners at the 2015 BMW BERLIN-MARATHON.

She has already won here in 2010 and 2012, achieving her standing personal best (2:20:30 h) during the legendary race in pouring rain in 2010. Her greatest competition is expected to come from Gladys Cherono of Kenya, the reigning half marathon world champion. She achieved that title in the spring of 2014 in Copenhagen. The African champion in the 5,000m and 10,000m also won silver in the 10,000m at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. After trying out several half marathon races, crowned with the above-mentioned World Championship title, she ran her first marathon this year with quality and very promising time of 2:20:03 h – truly a world-class performance. The third in this group of top female international marathon runners who will be competing in the 2015 BMW BERLIN-MARATHON is Meseret Hailu, also of Ethiopia, whose personal best in the marathon is only insignificantly slower: In 2012 she won the Amsterdam marathon in 2:21:09 h. That same year she was also the half marathon world champion. The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON will be the tenth marathon in her career as a long-distance runner.

After competing in 2012 and 2014, Anna Hahner, currently Germany’s fastest female marathon runner, will be starting at the BMW Berlin Marathon for the third time. In 2014 she ran her personal best in Berlin in 2:26:44 h, placing seventh in an international field. The greatest athletic accomplishment so far for the long-distance runner from Hünfeld near Fulda was her victory last year at the Vienna Marathon. Last Sunday she successfully tested the Olympic atmosphere at the marathon in Rio de Janeiro. Coming in behind Caroline Chemutai Komen (Kenya), Anna Hahner finished second in 2:39:15 hours on the course along the coast.

New partners will be moving into the limelight at the 42nd edition of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. As announced last week, Abbott, a global healthcare company, will be a new main sponsor and official Healthcare partner. We are also welcoming the Swiss luxury watch brand TAG Heuer as the new official timing partner. The organizer of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON, SCC EVENTS, is announcing two addional partners as well: Taiwan Excellence, which is the seal of Quality for award winning products from Taiwan, and Strava, a community of athletes from all over the world.

Course records fall in Karlovy Vary

Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon


Elijah Tirop Serem led a Kenyan quartet to victory and took 20 seconds off the course record to win the men’s title at the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon in the Czech Republic on Saturday.

Serem broke away from the leading group with four kilometres left to achieve what he described as the best win of his career in 61:01. Nicholas Kipkemboi finished second in 61:13 and Bernard Bett third in 61:22. The Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon is an IAAF Silver Label Road Race.

The pace was strong from the start with the lead group going through 10km in 28:43 and on course to take almost a minute off the course record of 61:21, set last year by Ethiopia’s Teshome Mekonen. But the course was testing with frequent short climbs and a gentle breeze for the evening start in the historic spa town gained in strength by mid-race. By 15 km four men were in contention: Serem and the joint fastest men on the start line, Nicholas Kipkemboi and Edwin Kiptoo plus Bernard Bett.

Kiptoo was the first to falter and then Elijah Serem, growing in confidence, increased the pressure. “I thought then it was up to me. We were running to break the course record and I felt strong,” reflected Elijah Serem. Nicholas Kipkemboi finished 12 seconds adrift and Bernard Bett 21 seconds behind the winner.

Mulu Seboka won the women’s title, running 69:11 for a personal best and a course record by six seconds. The prolific marathoner from Ethiopia went clear at 13 km on an undulating course. Kenya’s Linah Cheruto finished second with a personal best of 70:22 while Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba placed third in 70:59.

Seboka’s improvement at half marathon was long overdue, chiefly because she has concentrated on the full distance in recent years. That paid off with 2:21:56 for sixth place in Dubai in January and she admitted her marathon strength gave her confidence.
The Ethiopian broke away from Linah Cheruto of Kenya and Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba at 13km, running strongly on the long road to the finish. The margin of victory was over a minute as Seboka finished in 69:11, well clear of Kenya’s Linah Cheruto who also set a personal best. Eunice Chumba finished third, almost two minutes behind the winner. Mulu Seboka will be back on the Czech roads for the Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon on June 20 and is keen to press her claims for marathon selection for Ethiopa at the World Championships in Beijing.

The half marathon debut of Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton ended in eighth place in 73:46. Britton’s talent at the distance events has been amply proven by her two European Cross Country titles but on this exploration of new territory she was never a threat to the leaders.

Ethiopians dominate Ottawa for second year

Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon and Ottawa 10K


Ethiopian elite athletes once again this year took top prizes in the 41st running of the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon this morning. They led a field of nearly 6,000 participants.

Girmay Birhanu, 28, finished with a time of 2:08:14 – a solid race but not enough to topple the Ottawa 2:06:54 record set last year. He was followed by Kenyan Philip Kangogo, 31, with a time of 2:09:56; and Ethiopian Chele Dechasa, 30, with 2:09:59.

Aberu Zennebe, 31, won the women’s category in 2:25:30 with a sprint to the finish line. Zennebe was followed closely by Kenyan Rebecca Chesir, 22, at 2:25:41; and Ethiopian Abebech Aferork, 24, at 2:25:53.

First Canadian woman was Rachel Hannah, who finished at 2:33:30 for a 10th place overall finish. At 28, this was the Toronto-based athlete’s first marathon.

First Canadian man to finish was Vancouver-based Rob Watson, who placed 8th overall with a time of 2:19:22. Three Canadian men placed in the top ten. Watson went out aggressively, hoping for a 2:12 finish for a spot at the next Summer Olympic Games, but fell short of his goal.

The Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon holds an International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Silver label designation. It is the only silver label marathon event in Canada.

100km del Sahara has a change of scenery

100 km del Sahara


The political instability that has now spread almost all over north African countries, wasn’t allowing us anymore to guarantee the safety necessary to organize the 100 km del Sahara in its original destination, Tunisia. After the last shocking terroristic attack in Tunis – we finally realized we absolutely, permanently had to change destination. Sometimes hard knocks can turn into opportunities. So, we decided to find the best possible place for re-creating the magic of Africa. A location that, as others found out before us, could offer a perfect terrain, vast and fascinating, for desert adventures: Argentina. Soon, on line, all the details of the new program.

Kipsang and Ronoh set to renew their rivalry in Olomouc

Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon


The sixth edition of the Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon will feature the latest episode of the duelling training partners when Wilson Kipsang and Geoffrey Ronoh stand on the start line in the Czech Republic on Saturday, June 20 while the Kenyan theme of excellence will be boosted by the women’s former world record holder at the distance, Mary Keitany. The Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label road race and forms part of the seven events in the RunCzech series.

A year ago Wilson Kipsang was the world record holder in the marathon and Geoffrey Ronoh a little known member of Kipsang’s illustrious training group in Kenya. That impression changed dramatically in the course of just over one hour as Ronoh beat Kipsang by eight seconds to win the Olomouc title in 60:17, his debut at the distance and only his second race at elite level outside of Kenya. The duo, who remain training partners, will renew their rivalry and both have shown the kind of form in 2015 which suggests another epic contest is in prospect.

Kipsang lost his pre-eminence in the marathon when his compatriot and training partner Dennis Kimetto broke the world record in Berlin last September. However, the 2012 Olympic marathon bronze medallist remains a formidable and consistent competitor at any distance, as shown by his second place in 2:04:47 in the London Marathon in late April. He is confident that regular strength sessions in the gym and track sessions have maintained his ability to be a contender at the half marathon. Moreover, he relished his debut in the RunCzech series last year in Olomouc: “People here love the sport of running.” He has broken the hour for the distance on five occasions, the best being 58:59 to win the Ras Al Khaimah event in 2009.

The presence of Geoffrey Ronoh alongside Kipsang makes the prospect of a men’s course record highly feasible. Ronoh holds that current honour with 60:17 from last year’s win. In the week before the Volkswagen Prague Marathon on May 3, where he improved his marathon time by almost five minutes with 2:10:52 for fifth place, Ronoh was confident his current training would bring rewards: “I’ve improved in training, meeting new targets for speedwork and long runs, compared to a year ago.”

A back injury, now healed, hindered his preparation for the Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon in late March and he has long since been in a successful training groove and also full of respect for his rival in Olomouc, Wilson Kipsang: “He is my mentor, I learn from him. You may try to do other things but they can hurt your career. He tells me, after a workout, relax, take your time, wait for the next workout, things like that.” Geoffrey Ronoh soon built upon his success in Olomouc a year ago, bringing his best for the half marathon distance down to 59:45 with victory at Klagenfurt in Austria two weeks before making a triumphant return to Prague roads and winning the 10k race in the Birell Prague Grand Prix on September 6.

Prospects are also enticing for the women’s race in Olomouc where the former half marathon world record holder Mary Keitany makes her Czech debut. She has returned strongly from maternity leave, winning the highly competitive Ras Al Khaimah event in mid-February in 66:02, the fourth fastest performance in history and only 12 seconds slower than her world record mark of 2011. She continued her form with second place in the London Marathon on April 26. This form should put the Olomouc course record of 68:53, set last year by the World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, under pressure. Whatever the stop watch shows after the race on June 20, high quality competition should be on the menu.

Carlo Capalbo, president of the RunCzech organising committee is among the many running fans who is eagerly awaiting the starting gun of the Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon 2015: “Having such big athletic stars as Wilson Kipsang and Mary Keitany is the best promotion not only for the race but also for the city. Last year, Olomouc got the attention of the whole athletic world, thanks to the surprise that caused the victory of Geoffrey Ronoh. I believe that also this year we can look forward to very fast times and superb sporting achievements.“

Sutume Kebede breaks Ethiopian 25 k record in BIG 25 Berlin, Abraham Cheroben defends with a world lead

BIG 25 Berlin


Abraham Cheroben defended his title with a world lead of 1:12:31. The Kenyan was almost a minute ahead of Temesgen Daba Ejerssa. The Ethiopian took second in 1:13:28 while Kenya’s Kenneth Kipkemoi was third with 1:14:18.

11,480 runners registered for the 35th edition of the BIG 25 Berlin, which back in 1981 was Germany’s first major city road race.

As expected the men’s races started very fast. This is partly because the course is slightly downwards during the first five kilometres. But today the wind was also a major factor. During the first 10 k it was mostly a tailwind, which led to split times of 14:06 and 28:30 at 5 and 10 k respectively. Led by a pacemaker the four leaders – besides Cheroben, Ejerssa and Kipkemoi there was also Kenya’s Frederick Ngeny in this group – were running at world record pace. This mark of 1:11:18 was established by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto, when he won the BIG 25 Berlin in 2012.

However once the leaders passed the 11 k point, where the pacemaker dropped back, they faced a strong headwind. With forecasted wind gusts of up to 60 kilometres per hour corresponding to 7 on the Beaufort scale there was no chance of keeping this sort of pace during the remaining distance. Kilometre splits dropped by almost ten seconds from 2:51 to slightly over three minutes during some sections.

Shortly before the 15 k mark, which was then passed in 43:04, Ngeny was the first one who dropped back from the leading group. The Kenyan finally finished fourth in 1:14:49. When Ejerssa worked hard in the lead he managed to drop Kipkemoi after 17 k. But the Ethiopian could not run away from Cheroben. The defending champion, who ran a world-class time of 1:11:47 a year ago, then started to attack with around six kilometres to go. On a slightly uphill stretch Cherono build a decisive lead.

“I intended to attack the world record today. But with such strong headwinds during the second half of the race it was not possible,” said the 22 year-old. “I will have to come back next year and try again.” Cherono will now prepare for the Kenyan 10,000 m trials for the World Championships. “It would be great if I could snatch a place for Beijing.” But whatever happens he will not run a marathon this year. “This is for the future, I will continue running shorter events on the roads first.”

In the women’s race Sutume Asefa Kebede ran at her own pace right from the start, leaving the other elite women well behind. Following a pacemaker she passed the 10 k point in a breathtaking 31:05, well inside world record pace. Kenya’s Mary Keitany had run 1:19:53 in the BIG 25 in 2010.

But Kebede, who now has won all of her seven road races this spring, also slowed in the wind. However she still achieved a world-class time of 1:21:55. Passing the half marathon point before, which has an official timing, she was clocked with 68:23. This is by far the fastest half marathon time of a woman on German territory since spring 2013.

“I am very happy to have broken the Ethiopian record. I did not expect this to happen today,” said Kebede, who now intends to run the 5,000 m on track in Ethiopia. “In the autumn I will run road races again.”

Behind Kenyans Jepkorir (1:25:59) and Cherono (1:26:59) two Ethiopians followed in fourth and fifth: Helen Bekele Tola and Zewdnesh Ayele Belachew clocked sub 1:30 times with 1:27:39 and 1:28:55 respectively.

Kandie time in Prague, Melese wins women’s race from Moreira

Felix Kandie might well not have made it to the start line of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon on Sunday morning, feeling the effects of a sore throat. But he decided to give it a go and his resolution paid off handsomely. “I wanted to see how far I could get,” said Kandie. In the end, he went to the limit in the Czech capital. Coming from behind he took his second marathon win in a succession with another personal best. The 27 year-old improved to 2:08:32 in the Volkswagen Prague Marathon. Last November Kandie showed his strength to set a 2:10:37 course record in the Athens Marathon. Fellow-Kenyan Evans Chebet was runner-up for the second consecutive year with 2:08:50, followed by Ethiopia’s Deribe Robi, who finished in 2:09:05.

Yebrgual Melese of Ethiopia clocked a fine 2:23:49 to take the women’s race in Prague. It is the third fastest winning time in the history of the race that was first started in 1995. Portugal’s Sara Moreira took second in her second marathon race with a personal best of 2:24:49, improving on her debut in New York last November by over a minute. Letebrhan Haylay of Ethiopia was third with 2:25:24.

10,000 runners entered the Volkswagen Prague Marathon, which is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

It might have helped Felix Kandie that the pace in the men’s race was much slower than planned despite very good weather conditions. Kenyan pacemaker Benjamin Ngandu was supposed to pass through half way in just unter 63 minutes and he tried his best. However the group of favourites did not follow him. Ngandu was running 30 to 40 metres ahead of the first group. It was Hillary Kipchumba who then was on the heels of Ngandu and the pair reached half way in 64:00. While Ngandu dropped out after 27 k Evans Chebet moved up to Kipchumba. When they reached 30 k in 1:30:29 they were 22 seconds ahead of a chasing group of four with Kenyans Felix Kandie and Geoffrey Ronoh as well as Ethiopians Fikre Assefa and Deribe Robi. When last year’s runner-up Chebet surged ahead with ten kilometres to go this looked like the decisive moment in the battle for victory.

But then it was Kandie time in Prague. Breaking up the chasing group with a surge the Kenyan covered the 5 k section from 30 to 35 in 14:54. That propelled him within two seconds of the leader Chebet at 35 k. And it was soon after that he overtook the fellow Kenyan and built a big lead. “I felt tired at around 39 k so I just made sure that I would win,” said Kandie, the man who had broken the course record of Italy’s 2004 Olympic Champion Stefano Baldini in Athens last year.

With a time of 2:08:32 Kandie was 18 seconds ahead of Evans Chebet, who was not disappointed on missing out on victory for a second time in a row. “I had a leg problem in the build up to the race. So this time I am really happy with the second place. Hopefully I can finally achieve victory next year,” said Chebet. Behind Ethiopians Deribe Robi and Fikre Assefa, who ran 2:09:05 and 2:10:01 respectively, Geoffrey Ronoh finished fifth with 2:10:52. The Kenyan improved by almost five minutes. He had hoped for a much faster time though and was on course for that when he ran in third place after 35 k. But during the final section Ronoh tired and lost a lot of ground.

In contrast to the men’s event the women’s race was much faster during the first half. It was Kenya’s Janet Rono who stormed away with her pacemaker soon after the start. Passing 10 k in 33:45 she was on course for a sub 2:23 time. Sara Moreira followed in second with 34:08 and another 16 seconds back there was the big group with all the Ethiopian contenders. There was no change of this order at half way (71:43), but Rono began to slow and the Ethiopians were starting to close the gaps.

When Moreira was caught she managed to hang on, but once the group reached Rono the Kenyan was quickly dropped. They then passed 30 k in 1:42:53 and Moreira was the only non-Ethiopian left in the leading group, running besides Yebrgual Melese, Tadelech Bekele, Haylay Letebrhan and Ashete Bekere. Bekele and Bekere could not hold on much longer. And when 25 year-old Melese, who won this year’s Houston Marathon in January with a personal best of 2:23:23, surged the small group broke up. Melese looked very strong in the final five kilometres and finished in 2:23:49, exactly one minute ahead of Moreira. Haylay followed in third with 2:25:24 while Rono managed to secure fourth place in 2:26:31. With six runners finishing inside 2:28 the race had a very good depth. Only Dubai, London and Paris had more runners inside this time this year.

“It was my plan to save some energy for the second half. This is why I chose a more careful approach and did not start that fast,” said Yebrgual Melese. Second placed Sara Moreira was more than happy with her performance. “I had a leg injury so I could not run London. I was looking for another opportunity and was happy to get the chance to run Prague,” said Sara Moreira, who ran her marathon debut in New York last November, finishing third in 2:26:00. 29 year-old Moreira looks capable of finally breaking Rosa Mota’s 30 year-old Portugese record of 2:23:29, set in finishing third in Chicago.

Abraham Cheroben chases fast time again in Berlin’s 25k

BIG 25 Berlin


Another major Berlin road race renowned for its super fast times will be started this Sunday: The BIG 25 Berlin is the event which helds the two current 25 k world records. Dennis Kimetto ran 1:11:18 in 2012 while fellow-Kenyan Mary Keitany clocked 1:19:53 five years ago. While it is unlikely that these records will be under threat on Sunday the men’s race might well be very fast again. Defending champion Abraham Cheroben will return to the BIG 25 Berlin as will last year’s runner-up, fellow-Kenyan Kenneth Kipkemoi. Ethiopia’s Sutume Asefa Kebede and Elizeba Cherono from Kenya are the favourites in the women’s race.

The BIG 25 Berlin will see its 35th edition on Sunday. Back in spring 1981 the event was Germany’s first major city road race and a trendsetter for German road running. Marathon races in Frankfurt and Berlin followed the example of the 25 k and were staged in the city for the first time later in 1981. Organisers of the BIG 25 Berlin have registered more than 11,000 runners for Sunday’s races, which will include a half marathon, a 10 k race and a 5×5 relay event. All races feature the spectacular finish inside the Berlin Olympic Stadium.

A year ago Abraham Cherono clocked a world lead of 1:11:47 to take the BIG 25 Berlin. His result still is the fourth fastest time ever run at this distance. When the 22 year-old Kenyan returns to Berlin he aims to improve his personal best. The current world leading time of 1:13:48 could be improved by quite a margin if weather conditions are favourable. Cheroben was last year’s number one in the world at the half marathon distance as well. He won the Valencia race with 58:48 in October. It will already be his second start in Berlin this spring. Six weeks ago Cheroben was third in the Berlin half marathon. Despite a muscle problem that occurred during the race he clocked a fine time of 59:49.

However there is some tough competition waiting for Cheroben on Sunday. Another duel with Kenneth Kipkemoi is likely. 30 year-old Kipkemoi has twice been second behind Cheroben last year. In the BIG 25 Berlin he clocked a fine 1:12:32 and then Kipkemoi improved to a world-class 59:01 in the Valencia half marathon, again being beaten by Cherono. Kipkemoi remained number two in the world rankings for the half marathon last year with his time from Valencia.

Kenyans Charles Maina and Frederick Ngeny could also do well on Sunday. They have sub 62 minutes’ half marathon PBs of 61:13 and 61:37 respectively. It would be a major surprise if Kenya’s win streak would come to an end in Berlin. Since 2001 the winner of the BIG 25 has alsways been a Kenyan. It is exactly the same in the women’s race. 14 times in a row a Kenyan woman took the BIG 25. However that series is under severe threat on Sunday.

21 year-old Ethiopian newcomer Sutume Asefa Kebede looks capable of putting an end to the Kenyan success story. And she will be eager to add to her own win streak: This year she has won all of her five races in Europe. Among them were wins at 10 k and in the half marathon: She clocked 31:49 in Paderborn (Germany) and then 69:07 in Verbania (Italy) in April.

Sutume Asefa Kebede’s strongest rival is likely to be Elizeba Cherono. The Kenyan was second in the Berlin Half Marathon in March. She clocked 70:56 in that race while her PB stands at 70:15. However there is another Ethiopian who could do well in the BIG 25 Berlin: Zewdnesh Ayele Belachew has a half marathon PB of 71:37.

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Tips from a marathon master inspire favourite in Athens

If Joan Rotich retains her title along the historic route from the coastal town of Marathon to the Panathinaikon stadium in Athens on Sunday, advice from a man who broke a marathon barrier just over eleven years ago will have gone a long way in helping achieve that goal.

Rotich accomplishes the tough preparation process in Kenya’s Ngong Hills, where she reckons she is fitter than a year ago in time for her title defence in the Athens Marathon, dubbed “The Authentic” by the historically aware race organisers. None other than the former marathon world record holder Paul Tergat based his training in that demanding terrain and these days he stands ready each morning to set out the day’s training plan to Rotich and her running partners.

“He is there seven days a week to set the programme for the big morning session, then in the evening we do easy jogging. This year I’ve trained harder and feel fitter than ever before,” said the quietly confident Rotich.

Athens is renowned as a tough marathon course, undulating with a particularly gruelling downhill last 10 km which pummels the runners’ quads after a series of climbs and descents from the race start in Marathon. The women’s event record stands at 2:31:06 and Joan Rotich was just over ten minutes slower in crossing the line last year for victory in the stadium which was the venue for the first modern Olympics in 1896.

But the words of Paul Tergat, the first man to break 2:05 in the marathon eleven years ago in Berlin, will ring in Joan Rotich’s ears when she stands on the start line beside the Marathon Flame at 9am on Sunday. “He says he believes I can break 2:30, a lifetime best for me,” said Rotich at the press conference at the Marathon Expo in central Athens on Thursday. That would mark a solid improvement on her current best of 2:33:56, set in finishing second in the German city of Muenster in September 2103.

The event record for the men’s race is 2:11:35, set by Raymond Bett two years ago. He is due to return while already in Athens and limbering up for a title challenge is last year’s third placer, fellow Kenyan David Rutoh.

“I’ve been thinking how I can improve and go one or two places better this time. I’m in the same training group in Kericho as Bernard Kitur. He was one of the pacemakers when Dennis Kimetto broke the world record in Berlin six weeks ago and I’ve been matching him stride for stride in training,” reflected the experienced Rutoh. Kenyan talent can sometimes blaze brightly then be snuffed out almost as quickly but David Rutoh has a solid portfolio of performances. This includes a course record of 2:13:22 to win in Leiden in the Netherlands in mid-May, his most recent marathon. But reproducing a similar time on a course very different to the Dutch one will be a tough proposition in Athens.

At least one man on the start line on Sunday will savour the challenge ahead, come what may. Paco Borao is President of AIMS, the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, so he needs no history lessons about the significance of the race venue. The Spaniard is happy to be running at all, four years into a renewed running career after being diagnosed with bowel cancer six years ago. Recovery from surgery took two years before he set out on the road to regain fitness. All that was preceded by a 22-year break from running. At the age of 68, the prospect of challenging his best of 3:15, set in Madrid in the mid-1980s, may be distant, but like 13,000 of his fellow competitors, he will relish running in the footsteps of marathon history.

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Mark Kiptoo and Aberu Kebede win Frankfurt Marathon, German Arne Gabius runs sensational sub 2:10 debut

Frankfurt Marathon

“This is Your Day”. That was the motto of the BMW Frankfurt Marathon. When Mark Kiptoo was twelve kilometres away from the indoor finish in the Festhalle he felt a pain in his calf muscle and later lost a couple of metres. Trailing the leaders he thought about the motto and told himself: “Just hang on – this could still be my day!” It was indeed.

Last year’s runner-up went one better: Kiptoo won the race with 2:06:49 from fellow-Kenyans Mike Kigen and Gilbert Yegon, who ran 2:06:59 and 2:07:08 respectively.

Defending champion Vincent Kipruto of Kenya finished a disappointing 13th in 2:12:09 while highly rated Ethiopian Tsegaye Mekonnen dropped out after the 30 k mark. But another runner besides Kiptoo enjoyed a day to remember: Arne Gabius ran a sensational debut with 2:09:32, which is the first sub 2:10 time by a German since 1990. It is also the third fastest time by a European this year.

There was an Ethiopian victory in the women’s race with Aberu Kebede clocking a fine 2:22:21, which is the ninth fastest time in 2014, discounting the non-record eligible course of the Boston Marathon. Sharon Cherop of Kenya was second with 2:23:44, Ashetu Bekere (Ethiopia) took third in 2:24:59.

15,228 runners from 101 nations entered the BMW Frankfurt Marathon, which is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

Men’s Race: Kiptoo comes from behind in final stages

In almost perfect conditions with temperatures of around 13 Celsius, almost no wind and dry weather but relatively high humidity, the leading group passed the half way mark in 62:32 minutes. It was exactly the 2:05 pace planned beforehand. And there were still 14 runners plus two pacemakers in the leading group. However the athletes had run an uneven pace, which cost some energy and made them pay in the final section of the race. Soon after the 25 k mark it was Tsegaye Mekonnen who dropped back. The Ethiopian, who won Dubai in January with 2:04:32 to set a world junior best, was considered one of the favourites. But the 19-year-old became entangled with another runner before the 10 k mark, fell and subsequently dropped out.

Another pre-race favourite who suffered later in the race was the defending champion Vincent Kipruto of Kenya. The pace proved too strong for him after 30 km and he dropped back to finish 12th in 2:12:09. Although the tempo slowed to more than 3:00 minutes per kilometre during the final stages, the race for the victory remained exciting to the end. Six runners were still in contention with seven kilometres to go: Kiptoo, Kigen, Yegon, pacemaker Ronald Korir, who decided to carry on after the 30k mark, plus Ethiopians Deribe Robi and Tebalu Zawude. At 40 k Kiptoo was in fourth position and looked as if he would miss a podium place. But then the 38 year-old drew level with the leaders as Yegon and Kigen slackened the pace. “Originally I just wanted to encourage Mike Kigen because he is my training partner. But then I saw that he was tired, so I decided to press on,” said Mark Kiptoo, who had lost last year’s race by just one second in a sprint finish.

“I am very grateful to have won this time – although my form was better last year. This victory gives me some motivation. I think I have the capacity to run a 2:04 marathon in the future,” said 38 year-old Kiptoo, who would like to attack the world masters record of 2:08:46 in two years time. “I am passionate about this record. I believe I still have a long way to go in the marathon, I am still learning.”

Meanwhile Germany’s Arne Gabius ran a great debut. After passing the half marathon mark in 65:08 minutes he was the only one in the men’s elite field who managed to run the second half faster. Finishing in 2:09:32 the 33 year-old became the fourth fastest German marathon runner ever. It was in the 1990 Berlin Marathon when two Germans last broke 2:10. Jörg Peter, who is the national record holder, clocked 2:09:23 in that race and Stephan Freigang ran 2:09:45. Gabius also became the third fastest European this year.

“It was my plan to run the second half faster than the first. I knew I could get under 2:10 here,” said an overwhelmed Arne Gabius, who now considers targeting the Olympic marathon in Rio in 2016.

Women’s race: Kebede runs away before 25 k mark

The women’s race was fast from the beginning, with Aberu Kebede taking the lead quickly. Sharon Cherop and Frankfurt’s course record holder Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia, who had clocked 2:21:01 here two years ago, were running just behind Kebede. The trio passed half way in 70:35, on target for the course record. It was Kebede who then increased the pace and took the lead just before the 25 k mark. Running kilometres of well under 3:20 she was inside the course record with a 30 k split time of 1:39:50.

However in the final five kilometres the 28 year-old double Berlin Marathon champion found the pace too hard to maintain. But with 2:22:21 Kebede achieved the third fastest winning time in the history of the BMW Frankfurt Marathon. “This is a happy day for me, but it was a very hard race,” Kebede said.

While Meselech Melkamu dropped out beyond 30 k, Sharon Cherop ran a fine 2:23:44 for second place. Ashete Bekere of Ethiopia took third with 2:24:59 while furhter down the field Germany’s Mona Stockhecke finished eighth with a personal best of 2:33:50. Stockhecke, who finished 22nd in the European Championship Marathon, will be back at work this week, combining her rising running career with a full-time job as a research geologist.

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