Despite a strong challenge by a rising-star training partner, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya won Sunday’s BMW Berlin Marathon by one second, in 2:04:15. With the victory, Mutai virtually seals the 2011–2012 World Marathon Majors title and the $500,000 prize that comes with it.
Mutai’s time, while not the world record he was seeking, is the fourth-fastest in history on a record-certified course. Runner-up Dennis Kimetto, also of Kenya and already the world record-holder at 25K, finished in 2:04:16, the fastest marathon debut in history. Their times give the duo the top two spots on the world list for 2012, and Mutai’s average for his top five marathons, 2:04:30, moves him past Haile Gebrselassie as the fastest man in history for his best five races.
"We had a chance to break the world record, but the first half was a little slow,” said Mutai, who will turn 31 next week. “I tried to push it afterwards, but I was having a problem with my left leg, so I just tried to maintain the pace 'til the finish. But I’m happy with that."
Mutai’s win gives him 75 points in the 2011–2012 World Marathon Majors standings, after wins in the 2011 Boston Marathon and the 2011 ING New York City Marathon. His closest competitors have just 40, with a WMM victory good for 25. The only scenario—farfetched to say the least—under which Mutai could lose the lead is if Wesley Korir, with 40 points, scores well in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon next week and then decides to run the ING New York City Marathon on November 4 and scores well there, too.
In the women’s race in Berlin, Ethiopia went 1-2 with Aberu Kebede taking the victory in 2:20:30, followed by her training partner, Tirfi Tsegaye, in 2:21:19. Kebede, 23, won Berlin for the second time, after her victory in 2010.
The women’s 2011–2012 WMM race will come down to the ING New York City Marathon, where a win by either Edna Kiplagat or Sharon Cherop would move her past leader Mary Keitany, who is not contesting a fall marathon.
The 2011–2012 WMM winners will receive their checks in a ceremony on November 5 in New York City.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg