“There is a green light for the marathon“, says the new race director of the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON. In other words: Everything is ready for the most spectacular German street race this coming weekend. Mark Milde, who is heading the event in that function for the first time after taking over the position from his father Horst this past March, is optimistically looking forward to the race.
Saturday and sunday
The 42.195 km race will be started for the 31st time, for the second time as a two-day event. The inline skaters, who last year for the first time received their own separate race on Saturday, will again start one day before the runners. The starting shot will ring out for them at 10 a.m. on the boulevard Straße des 17. Juni, and one day later the running race will start one hour earlier at the same place. The finish for both races is in the vicinity of the Brandenburg Gate.
44,552 participants from 91 countries
Counting the number of registered runners and walkers (36,193), inline skaters (8,191), wheelchair competitors (38), and for the first time hand cyclists (130), there will be a total of 44,552 participants from 91 countries, which makes it the largest marathon event in the world. In addition, there will be 8,023 school-aged children and youth who will be participating in the 4+ km real,- MINI-MARATHON on Sunday morning (start at 8:45 a.m. on Potsdamer Platz). The slight decline in participation compared to last year is primarily due to the earlier start for the skaters. “For many potential participants from out of town, 10 a.m. is simply too early,” says Mark Milde. Last year the skaters’ race began on Saturday afternoon. The earlier start this year has to do with the concern of representatives of the Berlin retail industry that the street closings in the afternoon could lead to a loss in sales.
Four world records in six years
If one only includes the number of runners, the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON is with New York, London, and Chicago still one of the 4 largest marathon races in the world. Last year New York was number one. The real,- BERLIN-MARATHON is certain to defend its position in this leading group on Sunday. With regard to the results of the top athletes, in the last few years Berlin and Chicago were the international trendsetters, followed by London. In the past six years, four marathon world records were broken in Berlin—more times than at any other race.
Not every year a new world record
Regarding Sunday, there is no mention this year by Mark Milde of a world record. “Naturally one cannot expect that every year,“ says the 31-year-old. With the competing fall marathons, it was not easy this year to put together a top-notch field. Many top athletes started just one month earlier at the Olympic Games, and because 2 marathon races a year is usually the maximum that the elite athletes can put their bodies through, it was clear from the start that several stars were out—including last year’s champion Paul Tergat (Kenya) who won in 2003 with a world-record time of 2:04:55.
Four runners under 2:07 - never before
Especially considering these conditions, the starting field is amazing. With Felix Limo, the fastest marathon runner of the year will be competing. The Kenyan won the Rotterdam Marathon in April in 2:06:14, but was still not nominated for the Olympics. Three of his countrymen will be starting on Sunday as well, all of whom have best times under 2:07 – Wilson Onsare, Fred Kiprop and the champion from 2002, Raymond Kipkoech. Never before have there been four marathon runners with best times under 2:07 at the start in Berlin.
5th time win for japanese runner?
In the women’s race it is likely that a Japanese runner will win again for the 5th time in a row. The 25-year-old Yoko Shibui even announced that she hopes to attack the course record of her countrywoman Naoko Takahashi (2:19:46). Hiromi Ominami (Japan) is also one to watch out for. Sonja Oberem (Bayer Leverkusen) also has a good chance for a good placing, as does the 37-year-old Kathrin Weßel (SCC Berlin), who will be ending her long international career in Berlin on Sunday.
Paralympics in Athen - hand cycling first
The wheelchair race on Sunday, however, suffers from the simultaneous Paralympics marathon in Athens. Unlike last year, all of the top racers will be missing this year. And there will not be a single female competing. On the other side, the hand cycling race that will be taking place for the first time has found great resonance. There will be 130 athletes at the start, including the world record holder Errol Marklein (Germany/1:08:13).