Hand cyclists at the 31st real,- BERLIN MARATHON – the premiere
An athletic enrichment with 140 participants
2004-10-15The word must have gotten out that the real,- BERLIN MARATHON was opening up for a new wheelchair sport—hand cycling—as there were quite a few hand cyclists who made it to the premiere in Berlin.
In the end there were just about 140 participants registered. There were several well-known faces to be seen, hand cyclists who once participated in the wheelchair race of the MARATHON, several of whom are members of the BERLIN-MARATHON Jubilee Club: including Friedhelm Müller (16), Urs Schild and his wife Gabi from Switzerland (16), Errol Marklein (12), Hans-Albert Werkmann (14), Markus Pilz (12), Karl-Heinz Bauknecht (11) and many others.
Considered to be a good thing
Hand cycling was so to say “tested out” at the 24th Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON on April 4, 2004 and at the 13th Bewag City Night on the Kurfürstendamm on July 31, 2004, and determined to be a good thing .
After the start at 8:40 a.m. on September 26 on the Straße des 17. Juni, several groups formed according to their abilities. The largest group passed the half marathon point with 11 cyclists, and finally led the field with 9 cyclists across the finish. It was a thrilling finish, with the favourite Errol Marklein with race number H 1 finishing just ahead of Michel Wijlens of Holland, who found his way to this sport despite being a „pedestrian“, and ahead of Stefan Lange from Hamburg.
A time of 1:17:02 for the men
Despite the rainy weather, the winning time of 1:17:02h was faster than any time a wheelchair racer had finished (the course record, which was then also a world record was set by the repeat champion Heinz Frei (Switzerland) in 1997 with a time of 1:21:39). And that is likely also the kick that this new and faster sport apparatus offers to the former successful wheelchair athletes—a new challenge with opportunities to reach new dimensions.
A time of 1:24:43 for the women
The women started within the whole field according to their times, and the young woman and world champion from Holland, Monique van der Vorst, won in the fantastic time of 1:24:43, five minutes ahead of Andrea Eskau of Wuppertal - (the course record for the wheelchair race of 1:42:07 is held by Janette Jansen (HOL). Just about eight minutes later, the French woman Christyne Saladin secured third place.
Results only according to an open class
This year there was only one open class of hand cyclists. In the future, it is likely that the general classification according to handicap as is standard for wheelchair racing will be used. One thing is for sure that due to logistical considerations there will have to be a (not yet set) limit for participation like there is for the runners next year, in order to guarantee safe and fair conditions for all participants in the real,- BERLIN MARATHON.
The introduction of the new sport of hand cycling was in any case an additional enrichment for the organisers of the real,- BERLIN MARATHON.
Dr. Reiner Pilz
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