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Fireworks in Frankfurt

<st1:place></st1:place>

<o:p></o:p>The idea of running a marathon is infernal

enough for most people, but to run it indoors would be like a modern version of

Dante’s Circles of Hell. Yet indoor marathons were all the rage a century ago,

after the controversial finish to the Olympic marathon in

<st1:city>

<st1:place>London</st1:place></st1:city> 1908. Dorando

Pietri came into the stadium five minutes ahead of his pursuers, but the

Italian was so exhausted that he collapsed half a dozen times and had to be

helped across the line, thus getting disqualified. Johnny Hayes of the

<st1:country-region>

<st1:place>USA</st1:place></st1:country-region> was

declared the winner, but Dorando became famous. And they both made a fortune

from a series of subsequent races in

<st1:state>

<st1:place>New York</st1:place></st1:state>, which

had to be indoors, in order to entice paying spectators. Dorando won most of

their duels, but after 400 laps of the track the pair deserved every dollar

they won. When they retired, indoor marathoning effectively died with them. But

it has a minor resurrection in Sunday’s annual Frankfurt Marathon, 24th of the

line, in that the last 100 metres of the race takes the runners off the

pavement and into the ‘Gut Stubb’ the city centre Festival Hall, where a

fireworks display and brass band await them, along with 10,000 rowdy spectators

lubricated (since this is Germany) by the inevitable steins of beer.

 

<o:p> </o:p>

The noisy haven of the finish line will be

all the more welcome this year, since the unseasonable weather promises a

torrid time for the 42.195 kilometre trek through the streets of

<st1:place>Europe</st1:place>’s biggest expo city. Incidentally,

the organisers have bowed to all-round pressure to rename this race the Messe Frankfurt

Marathon. However, after much cooler weather in the last couple of years,

when the race was known as the Eurocity Marathon, the leading question

<o:p></o:p> is, can Boaz Kimayai (from

<st1:country-region>

<st1:place>Kenya</st1:place></st1:country-region>, as

inevitably as the German beer) make it a hat trick of victories?

 

<o:p> </o:p>

The projected 22C for Sunday morning will

probably rule out a third successive course record for Kimaiyo too - he ran

2.9.10 last year - but with the runner still in transit Friday morning, it was

left to his manager Federico Rosa to say, “I would say Boaz is in the same

shape as last year, when he set the course record, but a new record depends on

the weather” . Principal opposition comes from his compatriot, Philip Tarus,

whose personal best of 2.08.33 dates from his victory in the inaugural Rock &

Roll Marathon in 1999.  Tarus has never heard of the Eagles’ hit, “Hotel

California,” but he created something similar; following his win there, he

built a hotel back in

<st1:country-region>

<st1:place>Kenya</st1:place></st1:country-region>, and called it the Hotel San Diego!

 

<o:p> </o:p>

One European who may challenge for victory

is Leonid Shevetsov, who finished second here two years ago, and distinguished

himself with 13th at the Olympic Games in

<st1:city>

<st1:place>Athens</st1:place></st1:city>. The Russian

can obviously handle the heat, and said, “If the pacing is smooth, I hope to

have a chance to win. Last year, the pacing was so erratic, I think Kimaiyo did

well to survive and set the record”.

 

<o:p> </o:p>

If Marleen Renders is anywhere near optimum

form after two operations on her right hamstring, it is hard to see anyone

getting near her in the women’s race. The Belgian has the unusual record of

having bettered her time in each of her successive marathons over the last ten

years. She made her debut at home in Antwerp, with a victory in 2.28.59 in

1995; then following a third in Berlin ‘96, a second in Rotterdam ‘97 and a

fourth in London ‘98, she has won Berlin twice and Paris twice, the latter in

2.23.05 in 2002. Then the hamstring problems began to kick in, but she said on

Friday, “Everything seems fine now. I’ve spent two good months training in

<st1:country-region>

<st1:place>Switzerland</st1:place></st1:country-region>, and the only worry I have is that the weather may be a little too

warm”.

<st1:country-region>

<st1:place></st1:place></st1:country-region>

Germany  is the country where the second wave of the mass-running took

really took hold at the turn of the century, and

<st1:place>Frankfurt</st1:place> is benefiting too:

there will be over 17,000 competitors in the various races on Sunday morning,

with a projected record 11,000 in the full marathon.

 PAT BUTCHER

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