Bernard Koech Defends Title, Irine Cheptai Shines in Debut with Fast Times at Hamburg Marathon

Posted by: Watch Athletics

Kenyan runners Bernard Koech and Irine Cheptai claimed victory at the Haspa Marathon Hamburg with impressive times. Koech triumphed in the men's race with a stellar 2:04:24, recording the eighth fastest time in the world this year. Despite narrowly missing his own course record and personal best by 15 seconds, he became the first man to defend his title in Hamburg since Spain's Julio Rey in 2006. Ethiopia's Haymanot Alew secured second place with 2:05:30, while Kenya's Philemon Kiplimo finished third in 2:05:37.

The women's race offered an exciting duel, with Irine Cheptai winning in one of the fastest marathon debuts in history, clocking 2:18:22. Fellow Kenyan Winfridah Moseti set a personal best with a time of 2:18:25, taking second place. These times are the second and third fastest in the history of the race. Ethiopia's Gotytom Gebreslase finished third with 2:21:19.

A record 38,210 athletes participated in the 38th edition of the Haspa Marathon Hamburg, including shorter distance races, with 15,000 runners competing in the marathon. Chief Organiser Frank Thaleiser said, "It was a superb race with some of the fastest times ever in Hamburg. However, conditions became challenging when the temperature unexpectedly rose during the race."

For a significant portion of the race, the lead group was on pace to break the course record of 2:04:09 set by Koech the previous year. After a split time of 1:28:14 at 30 km, the final pacemaker dropped out, allowing Koech to break away from the other contenders. He completed the next 5 km in a remarkable 14:17 and reached the 35 km mark at 1:42:31, suggesting a potential finishing time around 2:03:30. However, Koech encountered difficulties toward the end, resulting in him missing the record. He commented, "I had a tough section, but that's part of sports. I might come back again next year." For the second time since 2022, four athletes finished under 2:06:00 in Hamburg.

Germany's Sebastian Hendel achieved a strong tenth place with a substantial personal best of 2:08:51, making him the ninth fastest German marathon runner in history. His previous record was 2:10:14.

Gotytom Gebreslase, the 2022 Marathon World Champion, initially kept pace with Kenyans Irine Cheptai and Winfridah Moseti. However, with 10 km remaining, she fell behind, diminishing her chances of making the Olympic team. She ultimately finished third in 2:21:19.

In the women's race, the final stretch saw Irine Cheptai open a small lead, culminating in a victory by three seconds over Winfridah Moseti. The two Kenyan runners completed the second half of the marathon faster than the first, with a split time of 69:44, placing them 11th and 12th on the 2024 world list.

"I never expected to win the race; I hoped to finish second or third," said Irine Cheptai. "Perhaps I can run between 2:14 and 2:15 in my next marathon. I would like to return to Hamburg next year." Argentinian Daiana Ocampo, who finished in seventh place, was the only athlete in Hamburg to achieve Olympic qualification.

German runner Katharina Steinruck experienced unfortunate luck. She had to sidestep at a refreshment point when a pacemaker stepped into her path. This caused her to collide with a drinks table, fall, and suffer an injury, leading to her withdrawal from the race. At the time, she had been running at a 2:23 pace. The best German result in the women's race came from Rabea Schöneborn, who placed 13th with a time of 2:35:07.

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