Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON on Sunday: Berlin sets standards
2004-03-29The Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON will once more be Germany’s first big international road race this year. For many athletes it will be a decisive test for one of the big spring marathons in April like Boston or London. Altogether about 17,500 participants are expected in Berlin. Among them not only runners but also inline skaters, power walkers and wheelchair athletes plus pupils who will run the 3.5 k Bewag FUN-RUN. Among the runners there are the two winners from last year: Paul Kirui and Magdaline Chemjor.
Concerning the organisation of Germany’s biggest half marathon there are two major changes. First of all the Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON will feature a new start and finish area which will be much more attractive. It is located next to the Schloßplatz in the heart of the city. Just before running into the finish athletes will pass the Berlin Cathedral and the Lustgarten. For the first time the Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON fair will be staged at the fairground around the Funkturm. It will now have the same venue as the BERLIN VITAL on the days before the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON. The new fair will be called BERLIN VITAL Frühjahr (spring). It will now have a similar standard as the marathon fair with a lot of service. Sports medicine will be a focal point of the BERLIN VITAL Frühjahr.
These two changes were necessary because of the development of the race. It is just five years ago that less than 4,000 athletes took part in the event. But then figures started growing enormously. Last year 16,194 athletes entered the Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON. Another 1,498 runners participated in the Bewag FUN-RUN. Meanwhile the Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON is as big as the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON was just seven years ago.
Concerning the elite athletes the race developed fine as well. It is Fabián Roncero who still holds the European record for the half marathon. Three years ago he in Berlin clocking 59:52 minutes. That showed that the course of the Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON is a very fast one as well.
While there were a number of very fast times set by the men the women have to catch up. That might well happen on 4th April since the women’s field is the strongest ever in the history of the race. While Magdaline Chemjor will try to defend her title she will face tough opposition. Joyce Chepchumba, who still is the course record holder with 68:22 minutes (2000), has entered the race as well. The Kenyan is the bronze medal winner from the Olympic marathon in Sydney in 2000. She has won marathons in London, New York, Chicago and Tokyo during her career and has a personal half marathon best of 68:11.
In the men’s race Paul Kirui will be the favourite again. The half marathon has become his best event. And after winning in Berlin a year ago in 61:05 he has meanwhile improved to 60:22. It is this time which puts him on the number one spot of the world lists this year (Rodgers Rop ran faster in Lisbon, but the course drops by 40 metres). Kirui won the Ostia Half Marathon near Rome. In Berlin he will try to further improve this time. Kirui belongs to the training group of the Italian manager Dr. Gabriele Rosa. The star of this group is Paul Tergat, who broke the world record in the real,- BERLIN MARATHON last year.
But Kirui will face tough opposition as well. Christopher Cheboiboch is among a number of strong Kenyan entries. He finished second at the Boston and New York marathon races in 2002. Cheboiboch has a half marathon best time of 60:33 minutes. Anything else than another Kenyan triumph in Berlin would be a surprise.
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