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Culture

Racing Through Berlin

Runners from around the world met in Berlin on Sunday for one of the world's largest marathons. Japan's Naoko Takahashi won the women's race, while Kenya's Raymond Kipkoech captured the men's title.

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About 33,000 runners race through Berlin towards the Siegessäule


For the second year in a row, Japan's Naoko Takahashi won the Berlin marathon -- but the Olympic champion didn't manage to reclaim the women's world best time.

Last year at the race, Takahashi became the first woman to run a marathon in under 2 hours 20 minutes, clocking in at 2:19:46. On Sunday, Takahashi ended a bit slower, at 2:21:49, but it was still fast enough to end as champion.

Kenyan Raymond Kipkoech, 22, won the men's race with a time of 2:06:47. Kenyan runners took the top five spots in the race.

The race - which attracted more than 32,000 runners from more than 90 countries - wound its way through 10 of Berlin's 18 discticts and twice crossed lines where the Berlin Wall once stood. More than a million fans lined the streets on the cool, fall day.

Injuries had forced 30-year-old Takahashi to cut her training time from five to three months. But nonetheless, she had hoped to regain the title as the fastest marathoner.

"My condition wasn't as good as last year," she told Reuters. "I tried to prepare as well as possible in the three months training before the race. I just wasn't as sure of myself this year. The crowds were fantastic again."

Her next goal is to win the gold medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004, which would make her the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic marathon titles. "This was an important step towards Athens and I know I can do better," she told Reuters.

The race was overshadowed by the death of one of the runners, a 40-year-old man who collapsed near the end of the race.