Report25 Sep 1999

Loroupe breaks marathon world best in Berlin


Kenyan distance runner Tegla Loroupe (© Getty Images)

Kenya's Tegla Loroupe improved her own world women's best time by four seconds to win the Berlin marathon in 2:20:43 before more than a million cheering spectators on Sunday.

Kenyan Josephat Kiprono won the men's race in 2:06:45, the third best time ever, leading a record field of 28,000 participants through the German capital city under near-ideal weather conditions - 15 degrees, cloudy and little wind.

The flat and fast course that wends its way through nine of the Berlin's 23 districts now holds the world's best marks for men and women: Brazilian Ronaldo da Costa won last year's race in 2:06.05.

The diminutive Loroupe, who is based in Germany, beat the previous best time of 2:20:47 for the 42.195 km race, which she set when she won the Rotterdam marathon in April 1998.

"This was my best race ever," said Loroupe, who did not realise she had set the new best mark until several minutes after crossing the finish line. "It makes it all the nicer that I did it in Germany."

Loroupe, who came in third in the 10,000 metre event at the World Championships in Seville last month, collected 180,000 marks ($96,000) for setting the world best time on top of her first-place prize of 50,000 marks ($27,000).

Loroupe had been aiming to become the first women to run faster than 2:20, but the 26-year-old slipped behind the world-best pace midway through the race as it moved through the districts of Kreuzberg and Neukoelln.

She found a new burst of energy at the 28-km (17-mile) mark in the leafy district of Steglitz and raced up the course's only significant incline, a climb of about 30 metres between the 30 and 32-km marks, to put herself back on track for the world best time.

"I hadn't expected it for a while because I had felt very tired," said Loroupe, who has lived and trained in the German town of Detmold for the last seven years. "I tried for the 2:19 mark but I didn't manage it.

"Thanks to the support of the crowd I was able to pick up the pace again," added the Kenyan, who stands 1.53 metres tall and weighs 40 kg.

"Tegla really broke the record in the last 100 metres," said her coach Volker Wagner. "I don’t think even Carl Lewis could have beaten her over the last couple of kilometres. She really sprinted right at the end."

Marleen Renders of Belgium was second in the women's race finishing in 2:23.58, followed by Russia's Svetlana Zakharova in 2:27.07.

Kiprono completed a fine day for Kenya and came close to setting a men's best time with a strong kick on the final mile of the race down the fashionable Kudamm shopping boulevard.

Only da Costa's world best mark in Berlin last year and South Africa's Gerd Thys, who set the year's best time in 2:06:32 in February in Tokyo, have been faster.

Kiprono, who came in second in the 1997 race, was followed to the line by Takayuki Inubushi of Japan in 2:06.57 and compatriot Samson Kandie in 2:08.34.

The 28,000 participants in 26th annual Berlin marathon included 4,000 rollerbladers, wheelchair racers and power walkers.

Only the New York and London marathons, with about 30,000 participants, are larger, organisers said.

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