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Birhanu Legese causes upset in Berlin Half

berlin 21k 2015

A debutant upset the favourites of the 35th Vattenfall BERLIN HALF MARATHON on Sunday: 21 year-old Ethiopian Birhanu Legese won the race in 59:45 after a thrilling sprint finish that went right to the line. He just denied Kenya’s David Kogei, who took second with 59:46. Race favourite Abraham Cheroben was third in 59:49, followed by fellow-Kenyan Richard Mendich, who also clocked a time of just inside the hour mark with 59:59. With annother four runners inside 61 minutes Germany’s best quality half marathon had again very good depth in the men’s race.

Cynthia Kosgei took the women’s race with 70:52, beating fellow-Kenyan Elizeba Cherono by four seconds. Isabellah Andersson finished third in 70:56. The Swedish runner who originally comes from Kenya was in the lead until 15 k.

32,025 runners from 106 nations entered the Vattenfall BERLIN HALF MARATHON. 23,527 finished in the German capital in fine but slightly windy weather conditions.

While the wind probably did not bother the fun runners it posed a problem for the elite athletes. For the first ten kilometres there was mostly a head wind and became obvious at the 5 and 10 k points. Split times were considerably slower than expected and the targeted time of sub 59 minutes was soon out of reach. A group of nine runners reached the 10 k mark in 28:30. This pointed to a finishing time of slightly over one hour.

However with more favourable wind conditions during the second half of the race the pace was picked up. After a 42:40 split time at 15 k the leading group of five men – Birhanu Legese, David Kogei, Abraham Cheroben, Richard Mengich and Kenya’s Abraham Kipyatich – stayed together until the final section of the race. With one kilometre to go Legese and Kogei opened up a lead. Their thrilling duel lasted to the very last metre of the race. It looked like a track race finish when the pair broke the tape.

„I was confident that I would win, because I know that I have very good speed. However once we crossed the line I was not so sure,” said Birhanu Legese after his perfect half marathon debut while David Kogei commented: “I am not disappointed at all. It was a great battle for victory.”

Surprisingly it was Steffen Uliczka who was the best German on Sunday. Running his half marathon debut the 3,000 m steeplechaser clocked 64:16 for 15th place. In contrast Arne Gabius had a bad day. The new German road running star suffered of stomach muscle problems. After cramping and vomiting he paused for several minutes shortly before the 13 k mark, but then decided to carry on and jog to the finish line. Gabius finally finished in 1:21:18. He will now concentrate on the 10,000 m during the summer.

In the women’s race Isabellah Andersson took the lead shortly after the start. When the former Kenyan passed the 10 k point in 33:31 she was nine seconds ahead. But during the next five kilometres the picture changed. Andersson slowed while Kenyans Cynthia Kosgei and Elizeba Cherono closed the gap. It was around the 15 k point (50:31) where they caught the Swedish runner and then went passed her.

21 year-old Kosgei then dropped Cherono in the final section of the race, winning in 70:52. Kosgei improved her previous presonal best of 73:23 by almost one and a half minutes. “I know that Berlin is always a good race. So I had not even expected to finish on the podium,” said Cynthia Kosgei.

Results, Men:
1. Birhanu Legese, ETH, 59:45
2. David Kogei, KEN, 59:46
3. Abraham Cheroben, ETH, 59:49
4. Richard Mengich, KEN, 59:59
5. Abraham Kipyatich, KEN, 60:03
6. Fentahun Hunegnaw, ETH, 60:10
7. Kenneth Kipkemoi, KEN, 60:17
8. Emmanuel Ngatuny, KEN, 60:58
15. Steffen Uliczka, GER, 64:16

Results, Women:
1. Cynthia Kosgei, KEN, 70:52
2. Elizeba Cherono, KEN, 70:56
3. Isabellah Andersson, SWE, 71:31
4. Anita Baierl, AUT, 73:23
5. Esther Hidalgo, ESP, 74:13
6. Maria McCambridge, IRE, 74:25
7. Frida Lunden, SWE, 75:21
8. Melina Tränkle, GER, 75:34