Giant Step for Womankind?
A possible new world record?
2001-09-29The Berlin Marathon has produced two world records in the last three years, and with Tegla Loroupe of Kenya, who set one of those records running against Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi of Japan on Sunday, chances are for a hat trick.
Both women claim to be in their best form, and are talking about a finishing time of two hours, 18 minutes. Loroupes world best, set here in 1999 is 2.20.43.
A sub-2.20 time would represent another major stride forward in womens athletic performance. Marathon running for women was frowned upon, indeed actively discouraged until the late 60s. Nevertheless, Violet Piercys 3.40.22, run in London in 1926 is generally recognised as the first womens world best. But it wasn until 1971 that Beth Bonner ran the first sub-three hours, with her 2.55.22 in New York.
Times have plummeted since then, with the introduction of womens championship races, including their first Olympic appearance in 1984, and the big city marathons. Jaqueline Hansen of the USA ran the first sub-2.40 (2.38.19) in 1974, Grete Waitz of Norway - a seven-time New York Marathon winner - ran the first sub-2.30 (2.27.33) in 1979, and Loroupe has taken it to the verge of 2.20, here in Berlin two years ago.
The Berlin event has blossomed since the fall of the Wall ten years ago, and the restoration of the city as the capital. Sundays 28th edition of the race will feature close to 40,000 runners and inline skaters, and the world record course puts the race on a par with New York, London and Boston.
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