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30th real,- BERLIN MARATHON: Running into History

30 years of racing history

2003-09-22

The story of the BERLIN MARATHON is a story of the development of road running. When the first BERLIN MARATHON was started on 13th October 1974 on a minor road next to the stadium of the organisers‘ club SC Charlottenburg Berlin 286 athletes had entered. 244 runners finished. The first winners were two runners from Berlin: Günter Hallas (2:44:53), who still runs the BERLIN MARATHON today, and Jutta von Haase (3:22:01).

It was until 1980 that the marathon route led the runners along the Grunewald. The maximum participation in those days was 397 in 1976. But already during the early stages there was a world record. In 1977 the national marathon championships were held at the event for the first time. Although this race was not started at the same time of the day. The womens championship winner was Christa Vahlensieck. The runner from Wuppertal covered the distance in 2:34:47,5. The official winner of the BERLIN MARATHON in 1977 was Angelika Brandt (3:10:26,8).

It was also in 1977 when there was quite a good mens winning time: British runner Norman Wilson won in 2:16:20,7. It was the fastest time on the old course along the Grunewald. But three years later Ingo Sensburg came close. In 1980 the runner from Berlin finished in 2:16:48. Until today he is the only male runner who won the BERLIN MARATHON three times: 1976, 1979 and 1980.

27th September 1981 was a big day for the organizers of the SC Charlottenburg. For the first time the BERLIN MARATHON was run through the main streets of West Berlin. The race was started in front of the Reichstag and finished on Kurfürstendamm. But it was a hard piece of work for Horst Milde and his compatriots to convince the citys government and especially the police to get the allowances. When Milde was introduced to the chief of Berlins police, he was told: “Roads are for cars only – not for runners.“

The first winner on Kurfürstendamm in 1981 was British. Ian Ray ran 2:15:41,8, finishing ahead of two countrymen. Angelika Stephan from Kassel (Germany) won the womens race in 2:47:23,5. 3,486 runners from 30 nations participated in the race. Quality of the BERLIN MARATHON then improved from year to year. Suleiman Nyambui was a prominent winner in 1987 and 1988. He was the first African winner of Germanys biggest and fastest marathon. Numbers of participants strongly increases from 1981 onwards. 6,270 athletes from 45 nations started in 1983. It was two years later when more than 10,000 entries were registered for the first time (11,814). Running became more and more popular in Germany, and hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the streets on marathon day in West Berlin.

There was nothing that indicated in 1989 that just one year later the BERLIN MARATHON would have another dimension. The 30th September 1990 was a very special date in the history of the marathon. Three days before the German unification the limited number of 25,000 runners ran through Brandenburg Gate – a lot of them with tears in their eyes. It was also the day when BERLIN MARATHON established itself among the fastest marathons in the world. Steve Moneghetti (Australia) ran a world years best of 2:08:16 – the first world class time in Berlin. It was Uta Pippig, who managed a home win. She ran 2:28:37.

In a race against 1994s winner António Pinto (Portugal) and the strongest European runner at that time, Vincent Rousseau (Belgium), Sammy Lelei achieved a remarkable breakthrough in marathon running in 1995. His 2:07:02 was the second fastest time of all times and the fastest for more than seven years. He missed the world record by just twelve seconds.

The 25th BERLIN MARATHON in 1998 had a record number of 27,621 athletes who had entered the race. And the jubilee edition was unexpectedly crowned by a world record. Ronaldo da Costa ran the race of his life. He clocked 2:06:05 hours and became the first athlete to have run the marathon in an average speed of more than 20 k per hour.

A year later another world record was broken. This time Tegla Loroupe became the hero of the BERLIN MARATHON. The outstanding Kenyan distance runner broke her own world record by four seconds. Loroupe, who is a shining example for Africas women athletes, ran 2:20:43. The mens winner Josephat Kiprono (Kenya) ran a world class time of 2:06:44 as well. And there was an Asian record as well: Takayuki Inubushi became the first Japanese athlete to run sub 2:07. He finished second in 2:06:57.

In 2001 a Japanese superstar had decided to run the real,- BERLIN MARATHON: Naoko Takahashi. The aim of the Olympic champion was obvious. She wanted to be the first woman to run sub 2:20. And finally she was the one to do so. Takahashi won in 2:19:46. Nearly half of the nation back home watched her breaking the record as the race was broadcasted live in Japan. After the 11th September the race had a political dimension as well. The runners held up a banner before the start. It read “United we Run“ and showed the symbols of both the real,- BERLIN MARATHON and the New York City Marathon.

A year later Naoko Takahashi was back in Berlin. After injury problems it was her first marathon since her triumph a year ago and she won again in 2:21:49. Raymond Kipkoech (Kenya) was the fastest with 2:06:47.


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