Kenyan Debutants Make History in Thrilling Mainz Half Marathon Dead Heat

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  • Gutenberg Half Marathon Mainz saw record-breaking performances.
  • Debutants Benson Mutiso and Victor Kimutai shared victory.
  • Kenyan dominance with an all-Kenyan podium.
  • Women’s race won by Josephine Naukot, Brenda Jepchirchir second.
  • Belgian Hanne Verbruggen achieved third place.

A new fast German half marathon has emerged in the city of Mainz at the picturesque river Rhine. On Sunday morning both course records were smashed at the Gutenberg Half Marathon Mainz and the men’s fight for victory ended in a spectacular and very rare dead race. Debutant Benson Mutiso and fellow Kenyan Victor Kimutai stormed over the finish line in 61:01 and neither with photos nor with video material it was possible to separate them. While both athletes shared victory Collins Kipkemboi followed in third with 61:38 and made it an all Kenyan podium.  

There was more success for Kenyan debutants in Mainz: Josephine Naukot won the race in 69:26 while Brenda Jepchirchir took second with 69:45. Both ran their first half marathon. Belgium’s Hanne Verbruggen took a fine third place with a personal best of 70:15. Once again she was inside the qualifying standard for the European Championships in Rome next month. 

The men

The new focus on the half marathon distance turned out to be an immediate success for the event that was the former Mainz Marathon. The fine winning times propelled the race up into second place in the current German rankings of half marathons. Only the Berlin Half Marathon produced faster times in 2023 and 2024. “We have achieved the times we targeted and we showed that it is possible to run fast in Mainz. And there is quite some room for improvement,“ said Race Director Jo Schindler, who is also the Director of the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon. Including races at shorter distances, organisers registered around 11,000 entries for the Gutenberg Half Marathon Mainz.

Benson Mutiso and Victor Kimutai took the lead after the 12k point and it was then mainly Mutiso who ran in the lead. However, shortly before the finish Kimutai moved ahead. But Mutiso reacted and once they reached the line they were right next to each other.

 “I thought I was ahead,“ said Benson Mutiso, who had run a marathon before (2:09:21 in Munich last year), but never competed in a half marathon. “My next goal is to run a fast marathon in October. I would like to go to Frankfurt for that.“ Victor Kimutai as well thought that he was first over the line. “We know each other well since we train together in one group in Iten. So it is fine for us to share victory,“ said Kimutai who ran a personal best in Mainz with 61:01. 

Behind Collins Kipkemboi (61:38) fellow-Kenyan Patrick Kiprop took fourth place and also ran inside 62:00 minutes with 61:55.

The women

In the women’s race Josephine Naukot already took the lead around the 13k mark. With 69:26 she was then well ahead of fellow-Kenyan Brenda Jepchirchir (69:45). “This was the best race of my career and my greatest victory,“ said Josephine Naukot. 

“My next goal is to run a time between 65 and 66 minutes. I would like to come back to Mainz next year and further improve the course record. I am not thinking about the marathon yet.

Belgium’s Hanne Verbruggen showed another fine performance, improving her recent PB of 70:23 to 70:15. 

“I hoped to run sub 70:00, but I was on my own for large parts of the race. That made it difficult. My big goal is to break the Belgium half marathon record of 68:58“, said Hanne Verbruggen, who is now number three of the Belgium all-time list. Next month she will compete in the European Championships’ half marathon and then in the Olympic Games’ marathon in August. 

The top five women in Mainz all clocked personal bests in good weather conditions. Ethiopians Lelise Wakweya and Hadas Shimuye finished in fourth and fifth places with 71:17 and 72:39 respectively. “My impression after this race is that there is huge potential in Mainz. We can build on this,“ said Elite Race Coordinator Philipp Kopp.



1. KIMUTAI Victor Kiptoo 1:01:01

1. MUTISO Benson Nzioki 1:01:01

3. KIPKEMBOI Collins 1:01:38

4. KIPROP Patrick Kipkurui 1:01:55

5. DEBEL Kuma Dejene 1:02:53

6. NUGUSE Hirusato Mamiyo 1:03:46

7. KIRWA Geoffrey Kipkemboi 1:04:12

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