Running his debut at the distance Leonard Komon won the 34th Vattenfall BERLIN HALF MARATHON with a world-class time of 59:14, just edging out fellow-Kenyan Abraham Cheroben in a sprint finish. While 26 year-old Komon clearly missed the world record (58:23) he wanted to break, the Kenyan still had plenty to celebrate: His time is an unofficial world debut record. He improved the mark of Moses Mosop by six seconds. Fellow-Kenyan Mosop clocked 59:20 in Milan in 2010. Ethiopia’s Tadelech Bekele won the women’s race in 70:05.
Running with a tailwind during the first 10k a very fast race developed. After passing the 5k mark in 13:39 a group of four runners – Kenya’s pacemaker Vincent Rono led his fellow countrymen Komon, Cheroben and Daniel Chebii – reached the 10k point in 27:40. With this split time the group was on time for a world record. But Rono’s pacemaking duties soon ended and when the group of three turned into Kurfuerstendamm after 11 k they ran into a head wind for most of the remaining distance. While Chebii could no longer hold on, Cheroben showed a great performance. The Kenyan, who is a training partner of Komon and entered the race with a personal best of 60:38, took the lead. “I have to thank him for this, because it really helped me,” said Komon after the race.
However the pace dropped and the world record became unrealistic once the two leaders passed the 15k point in 41:44. In the final few kilometres it was now about winning not about chasing records. In a sprint finish Komon, who is the world record holder at 10 and 15k, just beat Cheroben. Both were given the same time of 59:14 which is the second fastest this year. The course record remains at 58:56, set by Patrick Makau (Kenya) in 2007.
“I am happy with my performance in my debut race. Of course I ran longer distances in training, but there is always a difference between training and competition. I thought I would be able to run sub 59 minutes. It was a challenge, but at the end there was something missing. But I know what to do and will try to run such a time in my next half marathon,” said Leonard Komon, who intends to move up to the marathon distance in the future.
Komon finished ahead of eleven fellow Kenyans. Behind Cheroben the fight for second place was very close as well. Richard Mengich edged out Sylas Kimutai with both clocking 60:17. Chebii followed in fifth place with 60:40. Germany’s André Pollmächer ran a fine race with a PB of 62:45 in 13th place.
In the women’s race Kenya’s Agnes Mutune and Tadelech Bekele led from the beginning. With little more than two kilometres to go 22 year-old Bekele moved ahead. The pace was not as fast as expected and with the wind during the second half Bekele missed out on a sub 70 minutes finish. Clocking 70:05 she was eight seconds ahead of Mutune (70:13). “I am happy with this win and it is my plan to prepare for a marathon,” Bekele said. Running in third position for most of the race Germany’s Sabrina Mockenhaupt kept the podium place, finishing in 71:43. Maja Neuenschwander (Switzerland) was fourth with 1:12:43.