Kenyans Abraham Cheroben and Janet Rono won the BIG 25 Berlin with world leading times. It was Cheroben who produced the performance of the day. The 21 year-old clocked 1:11:47, which is the fourth fastest time ever run at 25 k. Fellow Kenyan Kenneth Kipkemoi was second with 1:12:32 while Ethiopia's Tebalu Zawude crossed the finish line inside the Berlin Olympic Stadium in 1:13:09 for third place. Janet Rono was well ahead in the women's race which she won with 1:24:37. Valentine Kibet of Kenya took second in 1:26:18 while third placed Maja Neuenschwander broke the Swiss record with a time of 1:27:01. Adding other running events a total of 11,050 athletes took part in the 34th edition of the BIG 25 Berlin.
There was a minute of silence before the start in honour of the former president of the Berlin and German sports associations (LSB and DSB), Manfred von Richthofen, who died on Thursday. Once the runners got off in dry but cool conditions with temperatures between 8 and 11 Celsius a very fast men's race developed. A group of nine runners passed the 5 k mark in 14:00 and then reached 10 k in 28:20. With some tailwind during this first section of the race the split times were faster than expected and even pointed towards the world record time. This mark of 1:11:18 was established by Kenya's Dennis Kimetto in the BIG 25 Berlin two years ago.
Two of the pre-race favourites then lost contact to the leaders. After 12 k Kenya's double world marathon champion Abel Kirui could no longer hold on. He finally finished in sixth position with 1:14:22. Defending champion Richard Sigei of Kenya lost ground at around 16 k and later finished fourth in 1:13:11. In the leading group it was Cheroben who continued to push the pace. After 18 k he was a few metres ahead of his two remaining rivals, Kipkemoi and Zawude. For a short period it looked as if Kipkemoi, who was tenth in the World Half Marathon Championships earlier this year, might be able to close the gap. But Cheroben was too strong and build a good lead in the final section of the race. Despite a head wind in this part of the course he clocked a superb 1:11:47.
"I think without the wind I could have run a bit faster. Additionally it was cold, but I felt fine," said Cheroben, who only started competing internationally a year ago. At the end of March he was second in the Berlin Half Marathon in 59:14, beaten by just one step by his training partner Leonard Komon. “I was disappointed to have lost that race, but today I am very happy to have won,” said Cheroben, who lives and trains in Kitali, which is an hour away from Eldoret. "In the autumn I am looking for a fast half marathon. I want to go sub 59 minutes," said Cheroben.
Although finishing sixth Abel Kirui enjoyed the 25 k. "I am happy with my race. It was the first time I ran a race at this distance and I really liked it. It was great to finish inside the Berlin Olympic stadium," Kirui said.
In the women's race Janet Rono took the lead right from the start. The 25 year-old Kenyan passed the 5 k mark in 15:54 and then reached 10 k in 32:36. At this point she was already 37 seconds ahead of fellow-Kenyans Valentine Kibet and Rodah Tanui. However the pace was too fast. “I knew that I had to slow a bit because I would not have been able to hold onto this for the whole distance,” said Janet Rono, who still managed to increase her lead during the second part of the race. “It was a very nice race for me, I felt fine,” said Rono, who trains with elite men in Kenya. Among them is the 25 k world record holder Dennis Kimetto. “My next goal will be an autumn marathon, where I want to improve to about 2:24.”
During the second half of the race Maja Neuenschwander came through to third place. The 34 year-old broke an old Swiss record. Martine Oppliger was the former record holder with a time of 1:27:11 from 1989. Neuenschwander now improved this mark by ten seconds 25 years later.
1. Abraham Cheroben KEN 1:11:47
2. Kenneth Kipkemoi KEN 1:12:32
3. Tebalu Zawude ETH 1:13:09
4. Richard Sigei KEN 1:13:11
5. Marc Korir KEN 1:14:06
5. Abel Kirui KEN 1:14:22
7. Abraham Kipyatich KEN 1:15:11
8. Peter Some KEN 1:15:59
1. Janet Rono KEN 1:24:37
2. Valentine Kibet KEN 1:26:18
3. Maja Neuenschwander SUI 1:27:01
4. Rodah Tanui KEN 1:28:38
5. Chelangat Sang KEN 1:32:06
More information is available at: Berline-Runs.com.
Winners Abraham Cheroben and Janet Rono - Photo credit: Victah Sailer / BERLIN RUNS