Kirwa Shatters Comerzbank Frankfurt Marathon Record

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Gilbert Kirwa set a new course record in Frankfurt. Photo:
Gilbert Kirwa set a new course record in Frankfurt. Photo:

Countrywoman Kiprop takes women’s title.

Gilbert Kirwa of Kenya broke both the defending champion and the course record to win the Commerzbank Frankfurt Marathon today, in 2.06.14, a time that puts him in the top 20 all-time at the distance. It also netts him 95,000 euros in prize and bonuses.

Kirwa, 23, was running only his second marathon, having won his first in Vienna six months ago, in 2.08.21. Vienna was a race for debutants, but today Kirwa was also more than equal to the tried and tested, and celebrated.

When Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot took the lead shortly after 25 kilometres, it looked as if he was on his way to a successful defence of last year’s title. But Kirwa pegged him back within five kilometres, and they ran together until 38k when Kirwa gradually moved away to win by over 50 metres, with Cheruiyot clocking 2.06.23 for second, still 58sec better than his course record of 2008.

“When he went away, I thought he would win,” said Kirwa of Cheruiyot immediately after the finish. “But when I started to catch him, I thought I could win. I had a little problem with stiffness in my back, but it’s OK. Two marathons, two victories, I’m very happy”.

Cheruiyot blamed an ongoing hamstring problem, for causing him to slow down, and let Kirwa take the advantage. He said, “It’s the same problem I had in Boston,” where he finished fifth in April.

Although he was on paper the fastest man in the field, with his 2.06.50 from ten years ago, William Kiplagat, 37, claimed beforehand that he is more of coach nowadays, principally to Cheruiyot. Yet he showed many of his young compatriots how to do it, by finishing third, in 2.07.05, also inside the previous record.

Guenther Weidlinger, 10th in 2.10.47 broke the 23 year old national record of Gerhard Hartmann by one minute and 52 seconds.

Agnes Kiprop took the women's title in Frankfurt. Photo:
Agnes Kiprop took the women's title in Frankfurt. Photo:

Agnes Kiprop of Kenya won the women’s race in 2.26.57, ahead of her colleague, Hellen Kimutai, 2.27.50, with Karolina Jarzynska of Poland third, in 2.29.10

After overnight rain and a misty early morning, the temperature for the 10am start was perfect at 12C (54F), with the sun breaking through. A group of 20 went through halfway in 63.35, half a minute slower than anticipated, but it gave the leaders the oportunity to run a ‘negative split,’ ie a faster second half, infinitely preferable to hanging on for grim death at the end.

But no marathon is easy, and Kirwa’s ample reward was the equal 17th fastest in history, and the advantage of a favourable exchange rate, earning him well over $100,000.

Quotes from the leading finishers at the Commerzbank Frankfurt Marathon 2009:

Gilbert Kirwa (Kenya), the men’s champion:

“When he (Robert K Cheruiyot) went away, I thought he’d win but when I started to catch him, I thought I’d win. Two wins in two marathons, I’m very happy.”

Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (Kenya) in second place:

“At around one hour, 40 into the race (ed note: appr. 34k) my left hamstring started to hurt and I had to slow down. It was the same as in Boston this year.”

William Kiplagat (Kenya) in third place and also coach to runner-up Cheruiyot:

“This is my best time for many years (ed note: for ten years!). I’m very pleased. Before the race I told Robert, watch out, if you don’t run fast, I’ll beat you.”
Agnes Kiprop (Kenya), the women’s champion:

“I had a hamstring problem at around 38 k and didn’t know how far I was in the lead until later.”

Hellen Kimutai (Kenya), in second place:

“It was only at 35k that I realised I would be among the leading finishers.”

Günther Weidlinger (Austria), in tenth place in 2:10:47 and a national record:

The pace of the leading group at the start was very fast and I dropped off after 5 kilometres. I had a very good pacemaker who knew exactly how to run the right schedule. Up to 20 k there were there three of us, the pacemaker dropped out at 25 k and I ran the last 17 k alone. But I was going really well and was right on schedule from halfway. Over the last few kilometres I was certain I would break the Austrian record and the difference to Vienna was that I didn’t fall apart over the last couple of kilometres. That’s why I was cautious during the race about what time I could run. I had no problems at all and not a single bad patch. Today I felt nothing like as shattered as I did in Vienna.”

Recap Courtesy of Frankfurt Marathon