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Mikitenko Joins Sub-2:20 Club
By David Monti

(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Haile Gebrselassie became the first man in history to break the two hour and four minute barrier when he won today's real,- Berlin Marathon, shattering his own world record set on the same course one year ago.  The 35 year-old Ethiopian, who now owns the three fastest marathon times in history, clocked 2:03:59 under sunny skies accompanied by comfortably cool temperatures (10°C to 12°C).

"I'm so happy," Gebrselassie told race organizers immediately after the race.  "Everything was perfect, the weather, the pacemakers.  Two weeks ago, I had a little problem, I ran 20-K 40 seconds faster than in my preparation last year.  But I had some cramps, and missed a week's training.  I started again a week ago, and had some doubts today, but in the end, everything was fine. This really is my lucky city."

It was Gebrselassie's third victory at Berlin, and he won €130,000 in prize money and time bonuses (USD 190,000) in addition to an undisclosed appearance fee.  He lowered his previous standard of 2:04:26 by nearly half a minute.

The tiny Kenyan James Kwambai was able to stay with Gebrselassie through 36 km and finished second in a huge personal best of 2:05:36, while his compatriot the, 2001 world 10,000m champion Charles Kamathi, finished third in 2:07:48.

In the women's race, 2008 Flora London Marathon Champion Irina Mikitenko became the ninth woman and second European to break the 2:20 barrier, shattering the German record for the standard marathon distance with a 2:19:19 clocking.  It was her second World Marathon Majors victory of the year, and she is now tied with Gete Wami for the 2007/2008 series lead with 65 points.

Mikitenko left her rivals, including Ethiopia's Askale Tafa Magarsa and Kenya's Rose Cheruiyot and Helena Kiprop, around 30 km into the race before bolting to victory.  Magarsa would finish second in a personal best 2:21:31, while Kiprop was third in 2:25:01, also a career best.

Depending on how one counts them, today's Berlin mark was Gebrselassie's 24th world record or best.  Some statisticians would argue it was his 26th, but two marks --a 41:22 15-K set in Tilburg in 2005 and 1:11:37 25-K set in Alphen aan den Rijn in 2006-- could not be ratified by the IAAF.  The 15-K was an intermediate time in a ten mile race which was not taken officially, and the 25-K time was disallowed by the IAAF because the post-race doping screen did not test for EPO (the time was also achieved using pacemakers who entered the course after the race had already started, another rule violation).

Gebrselassie's world records and "bests" are listed below (courtesy of Marty Post):

 1)     12:56.96        5000m   Hengelo 04Jun94
 2)     8:07.46 *       2 miles Kerkrade        27May95
 3)     26:43.53        10,000m Hengelo 05Jun95
 4)     12:44.39        5000m   Zurich  16Aug95
 5)     13:10.98        5000m   Sindelfingen (i)        27Jan96
 6)     7:30.72 3000m   Stuttgart (i)   04Feb96
 7)     12:59.04        5000m   Stockholm (i)   20Feb97
 8)     8:01.08 *       2 miles Hengelo 31May97
 9)     26:31.32        10,000m Oslo    04Jul97
10)     12:41.86        5000m   Zurich  13Aug97
11)     7:26.14 3000m   Karlsruhe (i)   25Jan98
12)     4:52.86 *       2000m   Birmingham (i)  15Feb98
13)     26:22.75        10,000m Hengelo 01Jun98
14)     12:39.36        5000m   Helsinki        13Jun98
15)     12:50.38        5000m   Birmingham (i)  14Feb99
16)     27:02   10km    Doha    11Dec02
17)     8:04.69 *       2 miles Birmingham (i)  21Feb03
18)     44:23 * 10 miles        Tilburg 04Sep05
19)     55:48   20 km   Tempe   15Jan06
20)     58:55   Halfmar Tempe   15Jan06
21)     56:25.98        20,000m Ostrava 27Jun07
22)     21,285M 1 hour  Ostrava 27Jun07
23)     2:06:26         Marathon        Berlin  30Sep07
24)     2:03:59         Marathon        Berlin  28Sep08
* not an IAAF record event; (i) = indoors

Not Ratified:
       41:22 **        15km    Tilburg 04Sep05
       1:11:37 ***     25km    Alphen aan den Rijn     12Mar06

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