Makau rewrites marathon history

Kenyan slashes 21 seconds off Gebrselassies record; Florence clinches womens honours

ecstatic Patrick Makau celebrates after winning the Berlin marathon on Sunday. reutersMakau ran under world-record pace for the entire 42.195 kms on the flat, fast course through the heart of the German capital to clock two hours three minutes 38 seconds. It was the fifth time the world men's record had fallen in Berlin.

The defining moment of an epic performance came 27 kilometres into the race on a fine, sunny autumn morning.

Makau, running easily in a leading group including four-times world and twice Olympic 10,000 metres champion Gebreselassie, decided the moment had come to pounce. He veered across the road, drawing Gebrselassie with him, crossed back and then shot away.

Gebrselassie, who has been suffering from the exercise-induced asthma complaint which has prevented him from running in London's annual spring race on the course where he made his marathon debut, stopped shortly afterwards and stepped off the road. He bent double in obvious distress and, although he returned to the course in less than a minute, he lasted only another eight kms before stopping for the second and final time.

"I did some zig-zag, at the time he was behind me," Makau said. "I just wanted to run and run. I went to the other side, he followed me, by the time he went back to the other side he was tired."

Gebrselassie, who said before the race he was aiming for a fast time to ensure he qualified for the Ethiopian team for next year's London Olympics, also dropped out of the New York marathon last November and promptly announced his retirement, an impulsive decision he later rescinded. On Sunday he returned to his hotel and did not talk to reporters but his manager Jos Hermens told reporters Gebrselassie still wanted to cap his career by running in London and intended to keep running. Hermens said Gebrselassie would now probably run in the Dubai marathon next January to try to clinch a spot in the Ethiopian team. "It's not the end of Haile," he said.

Florence Kiplagat went on her own before the halfway stage to win in 2:19:44. En route she set a 30 kms women's record of 1:27:38.

Twice Berlin champion Irina Mikitenko was second and world record holder Paula Radcliffe finished third in her first marathon since she finished fourth in New York two years ago. Radcliffe's time of 2:23:46 was comfortably under the British qualifying time for the London Games

Results: Men: Patrick Makau (Kenya, 2:03.38 WR) 1; Stephen Kwelio (Kenya, 2:07:55) 2; Edwin Kimaiyo (Kenya, 2:09:50) 3.
Women: Florence Kiplagat (Kenya, 2:19:44) 1; Irina Mikitenko (Germany, 2:22:18) 2; Paula Radcliffe (Britain, 2:23:46) 3.

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