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Berliner Halbmarathon: Heißes Line-Up, Eiskalte Entscheidung

Berlin Half: Hot line-up, icecold game

Chilly, windy, loud and flashy: The Berlin Half is one of the spring highlights of the year. The race on April 2nd delivered again: Germany’s capital has its own vibe.

Words: Agata Strausa
Photos: Florian Kurrasch and Marvin Reim

It was bitterly cold and a harsh wind was blowing in the capital on April 2nd, the day of the Berlin Half Marathon. The sky was covered up by dark clouds, here and there some sun rays made it through, but only scarcely. “The cold is biting”, runners murmured to each other at the mass start. Should I run in a longsleeve? Is it smart to wear arm-sleeves as an extra cover-up? Do I need gloves? Those were the big questions ahead of the race at the Tiergarten in Berlin on Sunday morning. As long as one did not leave the timing chip at home! 

The Berlin Half is known for its fast course with records of 58:42 and 65:02, but the conditions were not ideal on Sunday. Yet, the line-up could not have been better. The organizer even called it the “best elite field there ever was” at Berlin Half. The man with the fastest time going in was Sabastian Sawe from Kenia with a 58:02 PB. He lived up to the expectations and secured the win in 59:00 minutes.

On the women’s side, there was a match-up between Ethiopian Tsigie Gebreselama and Great Britain’s Eilish McColgan. Gebreselama hat the fastest time going in, but got passed by McColgan around 5 kilometers to go. McColgan finished in a time of 65:46 minutes, setting a new PB and breaking her own British record. “I felt my hamstring tighten badly around 1km to go. Fingers crossed it's just cramp”, she later wrote on instagram. She also was the first ever Briton to win the Berlin Half.

Local hero Deborah Schöneborn came in as fastest German in 72:12 minutes. Fastest German was Samuel Fitwi from Trier in 61:44 minutes.

Cool spectators, cooler runners

The remaining 35.000 thousand runners in the open field could not have noticed anything of the rivalries between the elites. Their experience was different, as Berlin again lived up to its name of the capital of the run crews, clubs and communities. The atmosphere along the course was wild, to say the least. People were screaming, shouting, playing music and waving at the runners. Around Potsdamer Platz where the Berlin Braves had their cheering spot, the crowd was especially loud and upbeat. The Cheering Zone by the Berlin Track Club und Kraft Runners was also one of a kind, with loud music, confetti and lots of supporters.

And the runners were loving it, they waved back, smiled and sometimes even answered with a “wohoo” or “yeah”. 

There was music was playing pretty much all along the course, some techno from balconies included. After all, Berlin has its own vibe. So did the runners. Most noticeable must-have accessory: Oakley sunglasses that were matching another piece of clothing. The cool kids wore a plain shirt underneath their singlet and split shorts. Typically Berlin: There was nothing, that didn’t exist.

The results at a glance


  1. Eilish McColgan 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 01:05:43

  2. Tsigie Gebreselama 🇪🇹 01:06:13

  3. Yalemget Yaregal 🇪🇹

Fastest German was Deborah Schöneborn 🇩🇪 in 1:12:12


  1. Sebastian Sawe 🇰🇪 59:00
  2. Alex Kibet 🇰🇪 59:11
  3. Bravin Kiprop 🇰🇪 59:22
Fastest German was Samuel Fitwi 🇩🇪 in 01:01:44 

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