Where Your Dreams Become Reality

Main Front Page

What's Let's Run.com?


Training Advice

World Famous:
Message Board

Turn Back The Clock!
Today's Top Runners Talk About Their High School Careers

Miler Scott Anderson's Journal

Wejo Speaks

Rojo Speaks

JK Speaks

Wejo Speaks
Rojo Speaks
JK Speaks


Paul Tergat Breaks World Record at 2003 Real Berlin Marathon
Wins Thrilling Dual With Sammy Korir
Sept 28, 2003

Until Sunday, Paul Tergat, one of the greatest distance runners ever to grace the planet (5 straight world cross country titles), unfortunately was perhaps most well known as "Mr. Silver Medal". At the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, 1997 and 1999 World Championships, Tergat was 2nd each time to the great Haile Gebrselassie at 10,000m.  When he moved up to the marathon, no matter how great the performance Tergat somehow nearly always managed to finish 2nd (2nd in his marathon debut in London in 2001, 2nd at the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in 2001, and 2nd again at London in 2002, despite running the 3rd fastest marathon ever, but losing to Khalid Khannouchi when Khannouchi broke the old world record).

Sunday morning in Berlin, Tergat got sweet redemption as he not only finished first at the Real Berlin Marathon, but he smashed Khalid Khannouchi's world record in the marathon in the process, running 2:04:55 (the first man under 2:05) to win the Berlin Marathon in a thrilling sprint finish versus pacemaker Sammy Korir. 

The race was a three way battle with Tergat running with the two designated pacemakers, Sammy Korir of Kenya (5 times sub 2:09 with 6 marathon victories, most notable Amsterdam in 1998 (2:08:12) ,Torino in 1999 (2:08:27), and Rock 'N Roll in 2002 (2:09:01))and a personal best of 2:08:02 from 1997) and Titus Munji of Kenya (2:16:58 in his marathon debut in Zurich this year).

The trio had passed half-way in 1:03:04, giving them a good chance of going after Khannouchi's record. When the pace increased after mile 15, Khannouchi's record was under serious assault. The trio had been running each 5k slightly under 15 minute pace until this point, but from 25 to 30 k ran 14:42, then followed it up with a 14:35 for the next 5k. It was clear at this point the pacemakers were going to race Tergat to the finish.  A blistering 14:38 5k to get them to 40k (25 miles) was too much for Munji as he dropped off with approximately 5k to go (37k).

It was now a two man race between Tergat and Korir. On paper, Tergat appeared to be the heavy favorite.  Not only were his track credentials much better than Korir's, but he had run over 2 minutes faster than Korir in the marathon. Plus, Korir's best marathoning days appeared to be behind him. Korir had made a career out of winning the 2nd tier major marathons of the world, but has struggled a bit in 2003, running 2:10:44 for 2nd at the end of March in a marathon in China and 2:11:36 for 4th at the Rock  N Roll Marathon in June in San Diego.

Past credentials meant nothing now as these two put on a phenomenal show, duking it out over the final kilometers in Berlin. Breaking the world record was a virtual certainty, the only question remaining was who would come out on top with the victory and the record. Tergat was the first to strike starting to pull ahead of Korir with less than a kilometer (.6 miles) left in the race.

As he ran under the Brandenburg Gate with the finish line in sight, Tergat appeared to have the race and world record in hand as Korir languished approximately 10-20 meters behind.  However, as they ran down the final straight, slowly but surely, Korir began to gain on Tergat making one final push for the finish line. At first, the effort by Korir appeared futile as Tergat had a comfortable lead and there was not much running room left. However, as Tergat began looking repeatedly over his shoulder, Korir got closer and closer to Tergat.

Just when thoughts of Tergat finishing 2nd once again in another thrilling finish began to be a real possibility, Tergat managed to hold off Korir to the finish line by a few feet winning by a second. Victory and the world record were his as he immediately hugged his wife at the finish line.

Mr. Silver Medal had now struck Gold and eternal fame with the new world record. Korir with his incredible run broke the old world record by 42 seconds. And the fireworks in Berlin continued with Andres Espinosa of Mexico (1993 NYC Marathon champ) running 2:08:46 for 4th place smashing the old Masters World Record.


Yasuko Hashimoto of Japan won the much overlooked women's race.

Top Results and splits below, plus outside news stories on the race. For the live Berlin Marathon internet recap click here.

2003 Berlin Marathon Results

1. Paul Tergat (Kenya) - 2:04:55 - WORLD RECORD
2. Sammy Korir          (Kenya) - 2:04:56 - also inside former WR of 2:05:38 by Khalid Khannouchi
3. Titus Munji          (Kenya) - 2:06:15
4. Andres Espinosa      (Mexico) - 2:08:46 - World Vets` or Masters Record
5. Raymond Kipkoech     (Kenya) - 2:09:22
6. Kazuhiro Matsuda     (Kenya) - 2:09:50
7. Kurao Umeki          (Japan) - 2:09:52
8. Andre Ramos          (Brazil) - 2:09:59
9. Mahkosonke Fika      (South Africa)- 2:10:13
10. Javier Caballero    (Spain) - 2:10:44

Men's splits:


Total Time

5k split

5 km 0:15:01  


10 km 0:29:58  


15 km 0:44:46  


20 km 0:59:45  


Halfmarathon 1:03:04  


25 km 1:14:43  


30 km 1:29:25  


35 km 1:44:00  


40 km 1:58:38


Top Women's Results:
1. Yasuko Hashimoto (Japan) - 2:26:32
2. Emily Kimuria (Kenya) - 2:28:18
3. Ornella Ferrara (Italy) - 2:28:28
4. Ana Dias (Portugal) - 2:28:49
5. Alina Ivanova (Russia) - 2:29:00
6. Monika Drybulska (Poland) - 2:29:58
7. Fumi Murata (Japan) - 2:30:15
8. Liz Yelling (Britain) - 2:30:58
9. Adelia Elias (Portugal) - 2:34:07
10. Dagmar Rabensteiner (Austria) - 2:34:35

Here's some more news on the race from outside sources:
Video of Final Few Minutes of Paul Tergat's World Record in Berlin
I never put money ahead of achievement. My passion is the sport."- Paul Tergat on turning down more money from the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon to run Berlin  The Guardian
*Tergat Says He Liked Berlin Course, Crowd Support Better more than in Chicago

*Tergat: "
Some people said, 'You cannot win a race,' but I knew my day would come. I knew nothing was going to stop me." NYTimes
Tergat. Korir, and Munji All are Dr. Rosa Runners (IAAF Recap)
Tergat's Record: He Ran Between Wrong Pillars at Brandenburg Gate and It Could Have Cost Him the Race AP
Kenyans Celebrate Tergat's Win and World Record in Berlin
Editorial in Kenya: Lessons to Be Learned from Tergat's World Record
Tergat is Being Called the Best Distance Runner Ever in Kenya
BBC Photos of Berlin Marathon and Paul Tergat's World Record
Yasuko Hashimoto Makes it 4 Straight Women Japanese Wins in Berlin
Liz Yelling gets Olympic Marathon Standard at Berlin Marathon

Tell a friend about this article
(Dont worry we won't email your friend(s) again. We send them a 1 time email)
Enter their email address(es), separated by a comma.
Enter your name:

Don't Worry: We
Back to Main Front Page
Questions, comments or suggestions?Please email the LetsRun.com staff at suggestions@LetsRun.com.

Save on Running Shoes

Cross Country Spikes 10% off

Train Smarter!!!

Lower Body Pain Relief 120x240

Running & Track and Field Posters

Unbelievable interest
ING Orange Savings Account

Sponsor of the NYC Marathon
ING Orange
5 Minute Process to Open an Account
No Minimum Deposit

Search the Web
or LetsRun.com