With altogether 41,376 entries from 90 nations this year’s real,- BERLIN
MARATHON has set yet another record. And in fact there has never been a bigger
marathon worldwide. But of course among the Berlin field there will be 8,369
inline skaters. 32,752 athletes will be running – and among them will be
a superstar of international athletics: Naoko Takahashi.
It was last year in Berlin that the Japanese runner became the first woman
to run a sub 2:20 marathon. Naoko Takahashi smashed a barrier in athletics,
when she reached the finish line on Tauentzienstraße in a time of 2:19:46
hours. For about two decades the most prominent women long distance runners had
tried to reach a sub 2:20 time for the classic distance of 42,195 k. But it was
Naoko Takahashi who succeeded first.
Meanwhile there are two more athletes who have beaten the barrier. And it
was just one week after Berlin when Catherina Ndereba of Kenya bettered Naoko
Takahashi’s world record. She won the Chicago marathon in 2:18:47 being
almost a minute faster than Takahashi in Berlin. „But it helped me a lot
that Naoko Takahashi had beaten the barrier a week before in Berlin“,
Catherine Ndereba said afterwards. It has happened before in athletics that
faster times or better results were achieved after a barrier had finally
fallen. And although Naoko Takahashi lost her world record so unexpectedly
quick she has secured her place in athletics history. The Japanese will always
be remembered as the first women to have run sub 2:20. This year
Britain’s Paula Radcliffe became the third women to break that time. In
her debut marathon she won London in a sensational time of 2:18:56. While
Ndereba and Radcliffe will run Chicago in October, Takahashi has opted for
Berlin once more.
But it is not sure if Naoko Takahashi will be in the same sort of superb
form she was in last year. After Berlin last year she has not run another
marathon because of injury problems. For the last couple of weeks she trained
in high altitude in Boulder (Colorado). It is the same preparation scheme as
last year before she came to Berlin. „I am very happy to be able to come
back to Berlin. I liked the city, the organisation of the marathon and the
people. And I just hope I will be able to enthuse the spectators once more with
a very good performance – although my form will probably be not quite as
good as last year“, Takahashi said.
It is the first time since 1994 that both real,- BERLIN MARATHON champions
will turn up again to defend their titles. In the men’s race Joseph
Ngolepus had upset the favourites last year. Entered as a pacemaker he ran the
whole race and won. The Kenyan ran a personal best of 2:08:47 hours. Based in
Detmold Joseph Ngolepus belongs to Volker Wagner’s group. The athletes of
the German manager have won the BERLIN MARATHON various times since the
eighties. And Ngolepus is a training partner of Wagner’s stars Tegla
Loroupe (Kenya) and track-runner Berhane Adere (Ethiopia).
But besides Naoko Takahashi and Joseph Ngolepus there will be more real,-
BERLIN MARATHON champions in the race. Kenya’s Simon Biwott could well be
the number one favorite. He had won the real,- BERLIN MARATHON two years ago by
just five seconds in front of Spain’s Antonio Pena. Biwott then became
prominent, when he missed the World Championship gold medal by just one second
in Edmonton in 2001. In the closest finish the marathon has seen in an Olympic
or World Championship event, the Olympic Champion Gezahegne Abera (Ethiopia)
won in 2:12:42 hours.
The man who still holds the real,- BERLIN MARATHON course record has also
joined this year’s elite field: Ronaldo da Costa, who set a totally
unexpected world record in 1998, clocking 2:06:05, will be back. The Brazilian
has never shown a race in a similar quality afterwards. But his achievement in
Berlin in 1998 was enough to make him a very prominent person in Brazil. And
another prominent name to run Berlin is Moses Tanui, who has a personal best of
2:06:16, when he was second in Chicago in 1999.