There was bad luck for Paul Tergat: The Kenyan is unable to run the BIG 25 Berlin this Sunday after a fall during a training session last Monday in Ngong. Nontheless Paul Tergat came to Berlin to show his support for Germany's oldest city road race, which will see its 29th edition on Sunday. It is the first time Paul Tergat is back in the city where he wrote athletics history, when becoming the first man to run a sub 2:05 marathon in 2003 (2:04:55).
Christoph Kopp, the elite athletes' manager of the BIG 25 Berlin, only knew about Tergat's injury since Wednesday afternoon but he still managed to sign a spectacular deputy for Paul Tergat. "Luke Kibet will now enter the BIG 25 with bib number 1," said Christoph Kopp, causing a major surprise at the press conference in early afternoon today. The Kenyan is the reigning World Marathon Champion from Osaka 2007. He dropped out of the London Marathon with problems two weeks ago at around 32 km, but is said to be fit for a 25 k race.
The women's field will see defending champion Peninah Arusei returning to the BIG 25. In 2008 she also set the 25 k course record of 1:24:10. Additionally she could become the first runner in the history of the event winning it three times. Arusei had first won the BIG 25 in 2006.
The race will be started at 10 am in front of the Olympic Stadium on Sunday. The course then leads the runners through the city centre of the capital, passing Brandenburg Gate, Friedrichstrasse, Potsdamer Platz and Gedächtniskirche. The finish will be inside the Olympic Stadium. Organisers expect around 9,000 entries for their race, which will also include a 10 k race, a 5x5 k relay and a children's race. More information is available online at: Berlin-Runs.com.
"I was really looking forward to the BIG 25 because I have never ever run a 25 k race in my career. And I was really going for a very good time. But then on Monday I fell, because the surface was slippery because of the rain. At first it did not feel too bad, but at the next day I felt a problem in the back and my doctor told me not run, because then a serious problem could develop. I feel really sad, but wanted to come to support the race. And hopefully I will be able to come back and run the BIG 25 next year," said Paul Tergat.
"With the help of Paul Tergat's management, Dr. Rosa, we were able to sign another very strong Kenyan on short notice. Matthew Koech will be among the favourites on Sunday," said Christoph Kopp. The Kenyan had placed fifth in this year's Ras Al Khaimah half marathon clocking 59:54 minutes. Further Kenyan favourites will be Fred Kosgei and Richard Lagat. Kosgei is the winner of the Prague Half Marathon in 2008 and Lagat has a personal best of 28:28 minutes at 10 k. But it is Luke Kibet who knows the course best. The World Champion had won the BIG 25 in 2005 with 1:13:51 and had then placed second with 1:12:52 when Paul Kosgei (Kenya) established the 25 k world record of 1:12:45 in 2004. That time still stands today.
"I don't think it is likely that we will see a result in the region of the world record, but we may have a chance regarding the European record," said Christoph Kopp, who has signed Dmytro Baranovskiy. The Ukrainian marathon record holder (2:07:15) wants to go for this mark, which stands at 1:14:20. James Kibocha Theuri (France) ran this time during the Paris Marathon a month ago.
More information is available online at: Berlin-Runs.com.
Paul Tergat and Peninah Arusei with children, who will compete in a 2 k race on Sunday. Tergat is given a special start number: 2:04:55 -- his marathon world record from Berlin 2003. Photo credit: Victah Sailer / photorun.net