Kenya’s pre-race favourite Daniel Ebenyo and Ethiopia’s youngster Tekle Muluat took the 43rd edition of the Generali Berlin Half Marathon.

In warm weather with temperatures of well over 20 Celsius any hopes for a record race did not materialize. Ebenyo led a Kenyan clean sweep with a winning time of 59:30. Amos Kurgat (59:42) and Isaia Lasoi took second and third with 59:42 and 59:47 respectively.

Nineteen-year-old newcomer Tekle Muluat became the surprise champion with a 66:53 performance. Fellow-Ethiopian Ftaw Zeray was second at 67:22 and Germany’s Melat Kejeta took third place in 67:26. 

The men’s race

Ebenyo avoided talking about a world record attempt at Friday’s pre-race press conference, but that was his big goal on Sunday. The silver medallist of last year’s World Half Marathon Championships started very fast and soon was well ahead with his pacemaker Bravin Kiptoo. The two passed the 5K mark in 13:28 which pointed to a sensational sub 57:00 finishing time, well under the world record mark of Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo of 57:31. However this pace was a bit overambitious and rising temperatures, there was no chance for Ebenyo to keep running that fast. With a 27:29 10K split, he was outside world record pace and from then on he had to run alone at the front. Ebenyo slowed further and soon after 15K (41:35) the 58:42 course record looked out of reach. 

Daniel Ebenyo for the win, photo credit: SCC EVENTS / Jean-Marc Wiesner

“I came here to Berlin because I wanted to break the world record. But from around eleven kilometres I had a problem with my knee and the weather became very warm. So I knew I would not be able to break the record, but I will try again next time,“ said Daniel Ebenyo, who lost most of his huge lead in the final seven kilometres. However, he held on and finished twelve seconds ahead of Amos Kurgat. 

Germany’s Samuel Fitwi produced another strong race in Berlin. Despite also slowing considerably in the final stages he managed to run a PB of 61:33 and finished in ninth position, the same as a year ago. Fitwi also dipped under the qualifying time for the European Championships in Rome in June.

The women’s race

While spectators could enjoy the warm weather in summer clothes for the runners it was far from ideal. This also showed in the women’s elite race. The first couple of kilometre splits indicated that the 65:02 course record could be attacked and that Melat Kejeta might go for the European record of 65:15. However when the women reached the 10k mark in 31:25 hopes for records were non-existent any more. 

Tekle Zeray for the win, photo credit: SCC EVENTS / Jean-Marc Wiesner

The race was now about victory. Ethiopians Tekle Muluat and Ftaw Zeray were already in the lead at the 10k point and soon moved well clear. With less than five kilometres to go newcomer Muluat left behind her rival. With a winning time of 66:53, she was 29 seconds ahead of Zeray.

“I am overwhelmed to have won the race because I never expected a victory today,“ said Tekle Muluat, who only ran her second race outside Ethiopia today. She was second in the Rome Ostia Half Marathon a month ago with 67:41. 

Melat Kejeta came through from fifth to third position and clocked 67:26. “I am happy with my performance, but it was too warm for me. I wanted to run a faster time, but during the race, I had to reduce my speed because of the conditions,“ said the German record holder (65:18). 

Lauren McNeil and Clara Evans of Great Britain finished in fifth and sixth positions with 70:10 and 70:11 respectively. Both were inside the 70:30 qualifying time for the European Championships.

Results

Results, Men:

1. Daniel Ebenyo KEN 59:30

2. Amos Kurgat KEN 59:42

3. Isaia Lasoi KEN 59:47

4. Benard Biwott KEN 60:21

5. Bravin Kiprop KEN 60:29

6. Diego Estrada USA 61:05

7. Robert Koech KEN 61:27

8. Victor Kimutai KEN 61:29

9. Samuel Fitwi GER 61:33

10. Selvarolo Pasquale ITA 61:57

Women:

1. Tekle Muluat ETH 66:53

2. Ftaw Zeray ETH 67:22

3. Melat Kejeta GER 67:26

4. Winnie Kimutai KEN 68:41

5. Lauren McNeil GBR 70:10

6. Clara Evans GBR 70:11

7. Miriam Dattke GER 71:01

8. Eva Dieterich GER 71:15

9. Lelise Wakweya ETH 71:59

10. Philippa Bowden GBR 72:15

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