Mizuki Noguchi Breaks Records in Berlin Marathon
Short time ago the five biggest marathon races in the world merged together for the ‚Big Five.’ The real,- Berlin Marathon is among the group with Boston, London, Chicago and New York. And the results of the most spectacular road race in Germany showed once again that the membership is justified. The real,- Berlin Marathon established itself with its 39,882 runners and a crowd of far more than one million people as fourth biggest marathon in the world. In addition the real,- Berlin Marathon produces results as good as normally reached only in London and Chicago.
It was once again a Japanese runner who produced the highlight at the 32nd edition of the Berlin Marathon. Four years ago in Berlin Naoko Takahashi was the first women to run below 2:20 hours (2:19:46). In 2004 Yoko Shibui bettered this time by five seconds. And now for the second time since Takahashi in 2001 an Olympic Champion was in the race. The result was not only a new course record, but a new Asian and Japanese record. After 2:19:12 hours Mizuki Noguchi finished at the Brandenburg Gate.
In Berlin Mizuki Noguchi became the third fastest marathon runner ever behind Paula Radcliffe (Great Britain) and Catherine Ndereba (Kenya). With her time she places in sixth position on the women’s all time list.
It was the sixth win in a row for the Japanese women in Berlin. Germany’s Luminita Zaituc took second place with 2:27:34 hours after she had to stop with cramps about two kilometres from the finish. Asale Tafa (Ethiopia) was third in 2:28:27. Besides Luminita Zaituc a number of elite athletes suffered in the warmer temperatures towards the end of the race. In the sun it was more than 68° Fahrenheit. But there was hardly any win. “If it would have been less warm I would have run 2:18—that is my next goal besides preparing to defend my Olympic gold medal in Beijing,” Mizuki Noguchi said.
The men’s race was won by Kenyan Philip Manyim with 2:07:41. While Peter Chebet was second with 2:08:58 and Jackson Koech finished third in 2:09:07 the top five places were taken by Kenyans. Warm weather conditions slowed the elite runners in the final part of the race. More than one million spectators lined the course with its famous finish at Brandenburg Gate.
Mizuki Noguchi ran her own race with pacemakers right from the start. It was the first time ever she competed in a marathon mass race. “It was not easy to run against the clock for the first time instead of running against rivals next to me. But I am very happy to have broken the Japanese record. I wanted to do this as a sort of present to my coach Nouyuki Fujita,” Mizuki Noguchi said.
She had reached 5 kilometers in 16:24 minutes and then clocked 32:53 (10K), 49:22 (15K), 1:05:43 (20K), 1:09:19 (half), 1:22:12 (25K), 1:38:48 (30K), 1:55:19 (35K) and 2:11:53 (40K). Except for the last part of the race Mizuki Noguchi had run quite an even pace. And for a long time it looked as if she could run sub 2:19. “But the final five kilometers were really hard. I thought about my hard training in St. Moritz and grit my teeth,” Mizuki Noguchi said.
It was last year when Yoko Shibui had broken the famous Japanese record of Naoko Takahashi in Berlin, clocking 2:19:41. Takahashi had won the race in 2001 achieving the first ever sub 2:20 time with 2:19:46. Now 27 year-old Mizuki Noguchi clocked 2:19:12, lowering the Asian record of Yingjie Sun by 27 seconds. The Chinese had clocked 2:19:39 in Beijing in 2003. Noguchi had the biggest winning margin in Berlin for more than 25 years. Second placed Luminita Zaituc, who had to stop due to a cramp, was 8:22 minutes behind the Olympic Champion. It was the biggest winning margin in the Berlin Marathon since 1979.
Luminita Zaituc had started the race maybe a bit too fast. Running together in a group with Ethiopians Asale Tafa and Worknesh Tola, who placed fifth in the end, they passed 10K in 33:54 minutes. That would have led them to a time of about 2:23. Zaituc was still well in the race when she passed half way (1:11:51) and 25K (1:25:13). But between 30 and 40K she was struggling hard. “Already at 15K I had the feeling as if something might be wrong with my leg. And I feared getting a cramp. It is a pity since I wanted to run a personal best. But I am very happy to have placed second in this race,” Luminita Zaituc said.
The men’s race was a much more open affair than the women’s. A big leading group with all the favorites was led through half way by pacemakers in 63:38 minutes. Just before this mark the pace was slightly increased and that brought the first casualty: Driss El Himer (France), who had targeted the European record of 2:06:36, faltered badly in the second part of the race. He finished in 29th position with 2:22:50.
It was similar though not quite as bad with Bong-ju Lee. The South Korean Olympic silver medalist from 1996 lost contact just before half way and finished a distant eleventh 2:12:19. But also the top Kenyans struggled in the warm weather.
With tremendous pace Philip Manyim had broken away at 28K. He covered the 29th kilometer in 2:43 minutes and then continued to add a couple of 1,000-meter splits well below three minutes. After passing 30K in 1:29:54 he was nine seconds ahead of Peter Chebet. Michael Rotich, Joshua Chelanga and Jackson Koech followed another 11 to 13 seconds back.
Philip Manyim increased his lead and he was so fast that for some time it looked likely he would break 2:06 hours. But then he started faltering in the warm weather. Behind him Jackson Koech had overtaken Peter Chebet. The race was not yet decided when there were 5K to go. It was only when Jackson Koech also ran into bad problems, that former steeplechaser Manyim looked a certain winner.
„I am very happy with my result, although it was very hot. Some time in between I thought I need to drink something, to get away with my life. It was my third marathon. Berlin is very nice and I want to come back next year. When I was training in Kenya, it was my aim to win. But when I was here, I was a little bit afraid because there were some athletes with personal bests under 2:07. After 25K, race director Mark Milde said to me that should I want to win the race, I should go away now. And it worked,” Philip Manyim said. Before Berlin he had a personal best of 2:08:07 from the Rome Marathon this year, where he finished second. “I never thought of catching Philip, because I had my battle with Jackson Koech for second place. The race was good, but warm,” Peter Chebet said. It was only on the last few meters when he could pass Jackson Koech, who was so exhausted that he barely made it into the finish. “I had no energy left on the home stretch, so I had to give up the second place,” Jackson Koech said.
A record number of 39,882 runners from 103 nations participated in the 32nd real,- Berlin Marathon. Adding walkers, wheelchairs, handbikers and inline skaters 48,170 athletes participated in the marathon. Another 9,312 students ran the schools’ race of one tenth of the marathon distance. So altogether the Berlin Marathon had a record number of 57,482 athletes.