the Finns were as feared as Kenyans are nowadays
2003-09-26European champion Janne Holmen measures himself against the best in the world in Paul Tergat and last years winner, Raymond Kipkoech in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, but the Finn has no illusions about the gulf in class. "If Tergat runs up to his usual level, I have no chance at the moment," said Holmen, who celebrated his 26th birthday at a press conference in the German capital today (Friday). The Finn was a surprise winner of the European title in Munich a year ago, in only his second marathon. It was also his best time, 2hr 12min 14sec, some six and a half minutes slower than Tergats best. Sunday will be Holmens third marathon, and while the Kenyan pair are set on attacking the world record of 2.05.38, set by Khalid Khannouchi in London last year, the Finn will be happy with a simple improvement.
"Two-10 (2hr 10min) is a good objective, but if I feel fresh, Ill increase the pace. Its a flat course, and its good to be in a race with a lot of top-class runners, it gives me an opportunity to make a big improvement". As a post-doctorate researcher in Nordic history, Holmen is well-qualified to appreciate how he is seen as a revival of the once-great tradition of Finnish distance running. Once upon a time, the Finns were as feared as Kenyans are nowadays. Paavo Nurmi, with a record nine Olympic titles was the star of a golden age which stretched through five Olympiads until the second World War, with a revival in the 1970s and 80s. But, as Holmen admits pickings have been thin since then.
"There were a few signs this year, we had a finalist in the World Championships steeplechase. But its too early to say whether its a resurrection or not. But Im still young for a marathoner". And he can always get some family advice. Since going to train at altitude in Morocco, he met and married the sister of Khalid Skah, the 1992 Olympic 10,000 metres champion, and winner of two world cross country titles, prior to Tergats five successive victories.
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