Sifan Hassan fell short of the world record but she still produced the highlight of the 39th edition of the Generali Berlin Half Marathon with a world-class time and a course record of 65:45 on Sunday (7).
Hassan confirmed in the pre-event press conference that she was targeting Joyciline Jepkosgei’s world record of 64:51 and she pulled out of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus last week in order to be fully prepared for the record attempt.
Running with a phalanx of male club runners, Hassan had the world record in sight in the first part of the race through 5km in 15:27 and 10km in 30:50 but she then slowed and missed that mark of 64:51 as well as her own European record of 65:15.
Even so, her winning time is the third fastest of all-time by a European long distance runner - bettered only by Hassan herself with her sensational 65:15 in Copenhagen last September and Paula Radcliffe’s time of 65:40 from the Great North Run in 2003.
“It is early in the season so I lacked a bit of speed. I gave everything, but I simply could not run any faster” said Hassan, returning to the city in which she won the European 5000m title last summer.
“It was a great race and I would like to return next year,” added Hassan, who won the women’s race by more than three minutes ahead of Kenya’s former world U20 3000m champion Veronica Nyaruai in 68:51.
Fabienne Amrhein was the top German performer, finishing sixth in a lifetime best of 71:39. “It was great to run a personal best and it is a bonus that I achieved a time of sub 72 minutes,” she said.
As William Wanjiku won the men’s race in a frantic sprint in 61:00 ahead of Kenyan teammates Rhonzai Kilimo (61:01) and Alfred Ngeno (61:02), Richard Ringer made a very promising debut at the distance, finishing seventh in 62:10.
The winner of the European 10,000m Cup in London last May moved into the German all-time top-10 with that performance but he professed he was looking for a slightly faster time.
“I wanted to run a bit quicker, but I could not go any faster. I have not quite arrived on the roads yet,” he said.
Ringer was narrowly beaten in the continental stakes by Israel’s Maru Teferi who finished sixth in a national record of 62:05 - improving his previous mark by 17 seconds.
Across the programme, 37,087 runners from 116 countries took part in this year’s race.