Patrick Makau conquers top of the world in an awesome world record of 2h03:38 in Berlin

You can never dismiss Paula Radcliffe, can you? She has made several miraculous comebacks against the odds through her outstanding career but maybe this one could go down as the hardest and most daring to date, shaking off a dismal display in the streets of London in late May and a last couple of seasons deep in the shadows to firmly restore her game back into the thick of affairs. That demands some courage, grit and class to pull off and she showed them all!

Much to virtually everyone’s surprise, she even dared challenge stride for stride a flowing debutant Florence Kiplagat (KEN), as if driven by her predator competitive instict rather than the particular dictates of the race, over the first 12km at a pace around low 2h20 which could have spelled suicide to her hopes – even herself admitted pre-race that this was very much of a journey in the dark. But her gamble paid off to drive her out into the light.

Florence Kiplagat runs away with victory in the ninth fastest time ever as Paula Radcliffe secures that much needed Olympic qualifying A standard some way behind

The Kenyan did finally break away to move through the gears into an overwhelming victory in 2h19:44, second fastest this term and ninth all-time over the distance, but the Brit held her ground in resilient fashion all along even though her pace was slightly dropping off. In the end, she had to give way only to fast-finishing Irina Mikitenko (GER), runner-up in a SB of 2h22:18, in the late stages but gritted her teeth to a classy 2h23:46 to nail that much needed A qualifying standard and revive her Olympic dream and challenge.

For she may have lost convincingly on the day but her rivals must have paid heed to her remarkable recovery of form as they know that 10 months is a sufficient enough spell for her to get back on the very top of her game, entertaining them all on her home ground in London in the battle for the Olympic crown next summer.

23-year-old Ethiopian Atsede Habdamu could very well claim the title of the most consistent performer of the year as she crept a second inside her PB in 2h24:25, occupying the 4th slot again as in Dubai in January.

For good measure, Radcliffe’s time was her fastest since her 2h23:09 in the Big Apple in 2007 and the best by a Brit since Mara Yamauchi’s 2h:23.12 in 2009. Among the other British girls coming home a long way behind, Amy Whitehead knocked off nearly four minutes to a new best of 2h35:39 in 14th place and Becky Penty removed close to six minutes from her own to a new figure of 2h36:19 for 17th.

The limelight, though, was dominated by that amazing runner Patrick Makau and he merited every ouche of it as he stormed to a new world record of 2h03:38, slashing a sound 21 secs off the previous landmark. Despite the imperious figure of the Emperor Haile Gebrselassie in the field, the very owner up to the race, the Kenyan was apparently struggling to rein in his pace and was itching to go as the leading pack breezed midway through in 61:44, and when he went around the 26th km he really let it rip and wasn’t to be caught.

Like Radcliffe, ‘Gebre’ was riding pretty much on a flatline matching the Kenyan’s every stride; but unlike the Briton, he didn’t take his foot off the gas the slightest and when he tried to contain Makau’s break he turned over swiftly a kilometre later. He had to momentarily drop out with breathing problems only to rush back in to the chase of the Kenyan a minute or so later, but was eventually forced to throw in the towel around the 35th to a bitter ending to his quest for an Olympic qualifier.

In the wake of a rampant Makau, pacemaker Stephen Chemlany felt inspired to hang on to second in 2h07:55, a smashing PB, and Edwin Kimaiyo made it a clean sweep for the Kenyan contingent in 2h09:50, also a big PB.

Not far off behind them reeled out the other, even more astonishing, successful British story of the event that even the finest of scriptwriters would have struggled to come up with. Scott Overall, wavering between distances for seasons, on his debut and on a bumpy ride in the run-up, got off to a sizzling pace around 2h09 that might have set some alarms going early but, to everyone’s astonishment, kept feeling and going strong on and on to pull off the unthinkable eventually. He did not only finish a smashing fifth and top non-African… Overall, but also came to clinch a massive Olympic A qualifier of 2h10:55 which very much equates to half a berth on the British Olympic team.

Of course, there is a long way ahead and many can happen but one thing the Blackheath runner hasn’t got to worry about is necessarily racing over the distance again or chasing a time up to the Olympics, which is a considerable edge over his compatriots in the race for spots in London. By the way, his debut time constitutes the fastest clocking by a Briton since Thomas Abyu‘s 2h10:37 in 2007 in Dublin.

Former steeplechaser Ben Whitby came 11th in 2h16:27 (SB) and Tony Ford was 18th in 2h17:16 (SB) among other Britons behind.


Men 1.Patrick Makau (KEN) 2h03:38 (WR, AR, PB), 2.Stephen Chemlany (KEN) 2h07:55 (PB), 3.Edwin Kimaiyo (KEN) 2h09:50 (PB), 4.Felix Limo (KEN) 2h10:38 (SB), 5.Scott Overall (GBR) 2h10:55 (PB), …, 11.Ben Whitby (GBR) 2h16:27 (SB), 17.Anthony Ford (GBR) 2h17:16 (SB), 21.Andi Jones (GBR) 2h18:34 (SB)

Women 1.Florence Kiplagat (KEN) 2h19:44 (PB), 2.Irina Mikitenko (GER) 2h22:18 (SB), 3.Paula Radcliffe (GBR) 2h23:46 (SB), 4.Atsede Habdamu (ETH) 2h24:25 (PB), 5.Tatyana Petrova (RUS) 2h25:01 (PB), …, 14.Amy Whitehead (GBR) 2h35:39 (PB), 17.Becky Penty (GBR) 2h36:19 (PB)


Post-race news

***Kenyan Olympic Selection Poser – Over 150 men and 50 women led by the likes of Patrick Makau and Mary Keitanyhave obtained the Olympic qualifying marks so far in Kenya giving selectors a nice ‘heavy’ headache in view of London.

***Patrick Makau’s new marathon world record reignites the question of how fast man can go

***Haile Gebrselassie turns his sights on Dubai