Taking the two winners' times the 29th edition of the BIG 25 Berlin produced the best ever 25 k race. Kenyans Matthew Koech and Peninah Arusei took advantage of the perfect weather conditions and clocked world leads on the fast course through Germany's capital. 25 year-old Matthew Koech ran 1:13:24, which is the seventh fastest ever run at the distance. Peninah Arusei became the first runner to achieve a third victory in this race. The 30 year-old, who had taken the race in 2006 and 2008, clocked a course record of 1:22:31, which was the fourth fastest ever.
The BIG 25 Berlin also made big progress regarding the fun runners: 9,871 entries from 45 nations were registered for Germany's oldest city road race. "We are very happy with this development. With today's event we have managed to bring the race back to its former glory, when it was organised by the French allied forces in West Berlin. The '25 km de Berlin' used to set standards in German road running," said Race Director Gerhard Janetzky.
For a long time it looked as if Matthew Koech might break the world and course records set by his fellow countryman Paul Kosgei in 2004 (1:12:45) in Berlin. He reached the 10 k point in 28:19 minutes together with Fred Kosgei and marathon world champion Luke Kibet (all Kenya). After 15 k (42:50) Koech was 20 seconds ahead of Kosgei, who later finished second in 1:14:35 while Luke Kibet (1:15:31) took third. In the final part of the race, when the course leads back to the Olympic Stadium and is slightly uphill, Matthew Koech could not keep the pace so that he missed the record.
"Nontheless I am very happy with my race. Now I want to run another fast half marathon. My aim is to clock a sub 59 minute time and qualify for the World Half Marathon Championships," Matthew Koech said. He had only known that he would run the BIG 25 Berlin on Thursday. After Paul Tergat had to cancel his start he was signed as a deputy for the great Kenyan.
The women's race also was an extremely fast one right from the beginning. Peninah Arusei took the lead before the 10 k mark, which she past in a blistering 31:18 minutes. At that stage she was twelve seconds ahead of Caroline Cheptonui (Kenya) and well on course for the first sub 1:20 time of a woman. But similar to Matthew Koech Peninah Arusei slowed predictably in the final stages of the race. She then missed Mizuki Noguchi's (Japan) world record of 1:22:13 by 18 seconds. "It is a pity, because if I would have known that it was that close I could have broken it. So I will come back next year to give it another try," said Peninah Arusei, who smashed her course record from last year by more than 90 seconds (1:24:10). Furtuna Zegergish (Eritrea/1:22:57) and Caroline Cheptonui (Kenya/1:23:43) took second and third, beating the former course record as well.
Next year's BIG 25 Berlin will take place on 9th May 2010.
BERLIN RUNS will stage its second edition of the ASICS Grand 10 on 11th October this year. There runners can either compete in a 10 k race or in a 2x5 k relay.
More information is available online at: Berlin-Runs.com.
Winners Matthew Koech and Peninah Arusei crossing the line in the Olympic Stadium. Photo credit: Victah Sailer / photorun.net