Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Abel Kirui The New Champion Of The World
The last time Abel Kirui raced, he was only the third-best Kenyan in the Rotterdam Marathon. On Saturday in Berlin, Kirui was the best in the world, as he pulled away over the final 5k to win the 2009 World Championships Marathon in a championship record 2:06:54.
Granted, Kirui's last race - when he finished third - he ran 2:05:04 in one of the most exciting races in the history of the marathon.
This time on the warming streets of Berlin (65 and sunny at the start, 70 and sunny at the finish), the pace was not quite as fast, but Kirui faced a more daunting field that included the hottest marathoner in the world, the reigning Boston Marathon champ Deriba Merga, the four-time Boston Marathon champ Robert Cheruiyot, in addition to the Olympic bronze medallist Tsegay Kebede of Kenya.
Eight Up Front Halfway
At 25k (15.5 miles), the pack was down to five, as Kebede, Dos Santos, and Chimsa were gone. Between 25k and 30k, Disi - while with the lead pack - just stopped running on the side of the road. He then resumed running for a little while before stopping again and dropping out.
At 30k, it was now three Kenyans (Cheruiyot, Kirui, Mutai) versus the unstoppable-in-2009 Merga. Could he survive the Kenyan trio? The pace had been relatively consistent throughout (after an opening 5k of 15:09, the pace had been between 14:49 and 15:05 for each subsequent 5k), but it was taking its toll.
Cheruiyot was the next victim as he fell off the back. Then, surprisingly, the next to struggle was Merga, despite the pace slowing (from 30 to 35k they ran 15:13 for 5k). By 35k, he was 2 seconds back of Kirui and Mutai. It now appeared to be a two-man Kenyan battle for the title. All along, Tsegay Kebede, the Olympic bronze medallist, who had fallen back before 25k, had not lost much ground and was within striking distance if one of the first three would falter.
Merga Drops Out, Kirui Vs. Mutai
Things then fall off quickly, as the honest opening pace was taking its toll. Japan's Atsushi Sato, who had gone out in 1:03:51, would hang on for sixth in 2:12:05, and raise his hands triumphantly at the finish. In 7th was Adil Enani in 2:12:12 and then was nearly a 2-minute gap until 8th (2:14:04), where the guys who had gone out more reasonably (1:05:58) would start to come in, led by Jose Martinez of Spain.
Dan Browne Leads The Americans
Afterwards, Dan said he was reasonably pleased (the IAAF has requested that we no longer post post-race interviews). He said, "I feel reasonably pleased ... I loved running here in Berlin." There were huge crowds at the finish of Brandenburg Gate, where music was blasted on the criterium course. Dan loved the atmosphere. He said, "It was awesome they were playing techno music. It was inspiring." Dan is focused on the 2012 Olympics and says making the team is his mission for the Army.
Matt Gabrielson was second American in 36th in 2:18.41. Matt didn't have an explanation for fading the second half of the race, but felt perhaps he was not ready for the flat course. He said, "I don't have an explanation. I don't think we trained on flat surfaces enough. I feel like I'm in so much better shape than that ... Coming down the final stretch I can't even describe it, the intensity, thousands and thousands of peopls just screaming."
Nate Jenkins finished (so the US would get a team score) in 63rd in 2:32.16, as Justin Young dropped out before 25k.
Big Win For Kirui