The Sempach Wheelchair Marathon in Switzerland, a few kilometres north of
Luzern, celebrated its 10th anniversary on May 22. It was started in 1986, and
every two years it is organized, professionally and with great care, together
with the Paraplegic Foundation Clinic (Klinik der Paraplegiker-Stiftung) in the
nearby small town of Nottwil.
This year, just four months before the Paralympics, the great showdown of
the favourites from all around the world began again as an international test
for those hoping to earn medals in Athens. The field of participants included
names very familiar to the organisers of the BERLIN-MARATHON, and it was the
first “reunion” since the 30th real,- BERLIN MARATHON 2003 on
September 28, 2003 for the current best three racers, Jeol Jeannot (FRA), Heinz
Frei (SUI) and Ernst van Dyk (RSA), who this year won the legendary Boston
Marathon in a time of 1:18h, the fastest time for a wheelchair marathon ever.
It is not a new world record, however, as the course in Boston is not certified
due to its hilly course.
The race and result of the 10th Sempach Marathon was incredibly similar to
that of the 30th real,- BERLIN MARATHON 2003. Jeannot and Frei, working the
hardest in the lead group that quickly developed, took off from them as well,
and together with van Dyk passed the halfway mark as a threesome. While van Dyk
had difficulties keeping up with the tempo, both favourites continued to attack
in the hopes of finding a weak spot in their competitor, which they could use
for an early decision. Once again it was Joel Jeannot who was able to break
away at the finish, winning 22 seconds ahead of Heinz Frei.
The winner of the women’s race was Edith Hunkeler (SUI), finishing
ahead of the Canadians Diane Roy and Chantal Petitclerc, who had crashed in
Berlin. The world record holder Thomas Geierspichler (AUT) easily won the T2
competition, and Stefan Strobel from Saarbrücken won the T1.
All those mentioned will unfortunately not be present in Berlin this year,
as the Paralympic Marathon will take place in Athens one day before the race in
Berlin. This will be a good chance for young athletes to make a name for
themselves at the BERLIN MARATHON. Last but not least, it should be noted that
at the 31st real,- BERLIN MARATHON 2004 on September 26, 2004 —following
their successful premiere at the 24th Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON – the
hand cyclists will be at the start for the first time. Dr. Reiner Pilz