Three Kenyan top stars will run the 30th edition of the BIG 25 Berlin this Sunday: Mary Keitany, Paul Kosgei and Gilbert Kirwa are ready for fast times. The jubilee edition of Germany’s oldest big city road race is very likely to see two world record attempts. The BIG 25 Berlin boost the strongest international field of any road race in Germany this spring. Organiser BERLIN RUNS expects a total field of around 10,000 runners.
For 28 year-old Mary Keitany the BIG 25 Berlin are a step towards her marathon debut which she plans to run either in Chicago or in New York this year. “I have trained well and have run up to 30 k in one session,” said Mary Keitany, who wants to attack the world record in what will be her first 25 k race. Although she will enter new territory it is likely that she instantly breaks the official world record listed by the IAAF. This mark from Mizuki Noguchi stands at 1:22:13. The Japanese had clocked this time during the Berlin Marathon 2005.
“Since I won the Abu Dhabi half marathon in January I have focused my training on the 25 k race in Berlin,” said Mary Keitany during Thursday’s press conference in the Aspria Spa and Hotel in Berlin. The Kenyan had taken the World Half Marathon title in stunning fashion in October 2009. Clocking 66:36 minutes in Birmingham she had an advantage of more than a minute and just missed the world record by eleven seconds. From the ten best times ever run at the distance Mary Keitany alone holds four, which is a remarkable achievement. But it was not just the half marathon, where Mary Keitany was number one in the world in 2009. With times of 31:04 and 62:59 minutes she also headed the season’s lists at 10 and 20 k.
Mary Keitany’s main opponents on Sunday will be Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) and Pasalia Kipkoech (Kenya). 20 year-old Dibaba has shown great form in February, when she was second in the half marathon of Ras Al Khaimah (United Arab Emirates) with 67:13 minutes. Kipkoech, who is just one year older than Dibaba, recently took the Berlin half marathon with 69:43 minutes.
If Mary Keitany succeeds in breaking the world record it would be the first time that the women’s mark would fall in the history of the BIG 25 Berlin. However the race so far has seen four world records in the men’s races (1993, 1997, 2001 and 2004).
The one who is the current world and course record holder has returned to the BIG 25 Berlin: It was in 2004, when Paul Kosgei ran 1:12:45. “It is my aim to achieve a sub 1:13 time on Sunday,” said the 32 year-old Kenyan, who originally intended to run a spring marathon. But an injury in February ruined these plans. Instead the World Half Marathon champion from 2002 opted to come back to the BIG 25 Berlin for the first time in 2004.
One of Paul Kosgei’s strongest challengers will be fellow Kenyan Gilbert Kirwa. Less than two years ago the 24 year-old competed outside Kenya for the first time. He quickly established himself as a world-class marathon runner. After winning his debut marathon in Vienna a year ago with 2:08:21 he took the Frankfurt Marathon in October with 2:06:14. In March Gilbert Kirwa was second in the Seoul Marathon with 2:06:59. Around a dozen Kenyan elite runners have entered the BIG 25 Berlin. One who could be in with a surprise is Joel Kimurer. He took the Prague Half Marathon in March clocking 60:09 minutes in windy conditions.
The BIG 25 Berlin will be started in front of the Olympic Stadium on Sunday. The course then leads the runners through the city centre of the capital, passing Brandenburg Gate, Unter den Linden, Friedrichstraße, Gendarmenmarkt, Potsdamer Platz, the Memorial Church at Kurfürstendamm and the TV tower. The finish will be inside the Olympic Stadium.
More information and online entry is available at: www.berlin-runs.com
You may use the attached photo showing Mary Keitany in the Berlin Olympic stadium with the current world record time. Together with her are Paul Kosgei (left) and Gilbert Kirwa. Photo credit essential: Victah Sailer / photorun.net
The title sponsor BIG is a German online national health service company (BIG direkt gesund). More information is available at: www.big-direkt.de
Although it was not ratified, the 25km time that Keitany’s performance should be judged against, is the 1:20.36 that Paula Radcliffe ran in the 2003 London Marathon – not Noguchi’s mark.
Kietany is capable of a sub 1:20 performance at some stage in her career at this distance. Would be good to see the likes of Melkamu out on the roads.