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25 k race in Berlin:

Rodgers Rop and Magdaline Chemjor win once more


For the first time in its history Berlin’s traditional 25 k race has the same winners as the year before. The 2001 champions from Kenya, Rodgers Rop and Magdaline Chemjor, came back and won again. While the recent Boston Marathon champion Rop decided the race with a strong sprint finish, Magdaline Chemjor reached the finish line without any opponents near her. In a tactical race the 26-year-old Rodgers Rop clocked 1:15:48, beating Wilson Onsare (Kenya) by just one second. Magdaline Chemjor ran 1:26:15, which was 64 seconds slower than last year. In very good running conditions with no wind an temperatures between 12 and 16° Celsius 5,585 runners took part in the event, which in 1981 was Germany’s first big city road race. Another 1,750 inline skaters and children also took part in the 22nd edition of the “25 km von Berlin”.

Although the loop course drops considerably for the first few miles, split times were far not as fast as in former years. After starting in front of the Olympic Stadium and passing through Brandenburg Gate later the first group reached the 10 k point after 30:15 minutes. Rodgers Rop was partly running right at the end of the group with up to 15 runners. “I had some problems in the first part of the race, because my muscles were tight. It took a while until it got better”, Rop said. The day before his manager Volker Wagner had said: “Don’t expect too much of Rodger, because the Boston Marathon is just three weeks ago. Normally he would not have started in the 25 k race, but being the winner from last year we decided he should give it a try. If the pace is not too fast he should be okay for 25 k.” The manager, who was in Brussels for the IAAF’s World Half Marathon Championships, was right.

The slow pace suited Rodgers Rop. And when Wilson Onsare sped up after about 17 k Rodgers Rop was ready and followed his countryman. The other six contenders of the elite group could not match their pace. “When we passed the half marathon point I knew I would win, because I realised that Wilson was breathing heavily”, Rodgers Rop said. Still for the spectators it looked absolutely close when the two where running next to each other towards the finish line. Onsare even seemed to get ahead of Rop, but during the last 50 metres Rop passed him in a convincing style of a champion.

A year ago Rodgers Rop had won the event in a world best time of 1:13:44 hours which still stands. It was only weeks after the policeman from Kapsaid had left Kenya for races for the first time in his life. “He came to train with some other runners I manage. So they told me, that there is a good new runner who should get the chance to get in a race in Europe”, Volker Wagner remembered. At the end of March 2001 Rodgers Rop came to his camp in Detmold for the first time. In autumn he ran his debut marathon in New York, coming in third (2:09:51).

Fast times as last year were out of consideration for Rodgers Rop today. “After winning Boston I went back to Kenya. There were celebrations and honours for two weeks”, Rodgers Rop, who became father for the second time just a few days after his triumph in Boston, said. So he did not start training again until last week. “And all I did was 20 miles altogether.” So with winning in Berlin Rop gave another example of his great abilities. “I wanted to defend my title in Berlin. But now I will go back to Kenya for a break.” In autumn he will probably run the New York Marathon while being the champion there is no way not running Boston again in 2003. Both courses not being easy one will probably have to wait for some more time before finding out about the Rodgers Rop’s speed limits in the marathon. “I believe that on fast course I should be able to run a marathon between 2:06 and 2:07. May be I will come back to Berlin one day to do it.”

In contrast to the men’s race the women’s race was a one woman affair. After Milkah Chepkieny (Kenya) and Birhane Dagne (Great Britain) had cancelled their starts on short notice there was no other women who could match the pace of Magdaline Chemjor. The 23-year-old, who is coached by Brother Colm O’Connell in Kenya, probably misjudged her pace. The course dropping in the first part of the race she was going very fast. Between 3 and 4 k she still had the men’s leading group well in sight, running less than 250 metres behind. 10 k was reached by Chemjor in 32:42 minutes, a very fast pace. She was only out of her personal best for 10 k by 35 seconds. At 15 k she timed 50:07 on her own watch – still a fast pace. But there were 10 k to go – and quite a few were uphill. Magdaline Chemjor was struggling later in the race and losing speed. “It was difficult running alone and uphill. But I hope to come back next year to beat my personal best from last year”, she said. With no real opponents around Magdaline Chemjor was more than 10 minutes ahead at the end. It was the biggest winning margin in the history of the “25 km von Berlin”. Valentina Delion (Moldavia) took second place in 1:36:25. Next weekend Magdaline Chemjor will run a 10 mile race in Bern and then continue racing in Europe until mid June.

Results, Men: 1. Rodgers Rop (KEN) 1:15:48, 2. Wilson Onsare (KEN) 1:15:49, 3. John Rono (KEN) 1:16:34, 4. Erassa Lemi (ETH) 1:16:44, 5. Mesheck Kosgei (KEN) 1:16:48, 6. Laban Chege (KEN) 1:17:12, 7. Erastus Limo (KEN) 1:17:20, 8. Daniel Keter (KEN) 1:17:27, 9. Moses Masai (KEN) 1:18:18, 10. Abebe Mekonen (ETH) 1:18:55.

Women: 1. Magdaline Chemjor (KEN) 1:26:15, 2. Valentina Delion (MOL) 1:36:25, 3. Kathrin Behrens (SG Berliner Bär) 1:42:59, 4. Iris Tiedeken (TuS Neukölln) 1:45:35, 5. Ute Wollenberg (ESV Lok Potsdam) 1:49:33, 6. Mieke Woelky (SCC Berlin), 7. Lina Böcker (GER) 1:50:01, 8. Carole Bould (GBR/ Spiridon Berlin) 1:50:05, 9. Anna Weidlich (DAV) 1:50:15, 10. Sonja Pingel (LT Uelzen) 1:50:56

Skater Men: 1. Tommy Ulbrich (Powerslide Racing Team) 42:10, 2. Thomas Langer (SCC X-Speed Team Rexton) 42:10, 3. Oliver Kornblum (SCC X-Speed Team Rexton) 43:34, 4. Marek Szymanski (POL/ SSW Malta Poznan) 44:02, 5. Olaf Kotva (SCC X-Speed Team Rexton) 44:25

Skater Women: 1. Tina Strüver (Turbine Halle) 44:26, 2. Doreen Gohlke (Berliner TSC) 47:25, 3. Marleen Klaass (SV Preußen Berlin) 47:25, 4. Claudia Rieger (SCC X-Speed Team Berlin) 47:36, 5. Kristin Höhne (SCC X-Speed Team Berlin) 47:36.

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