Driss El Himer: „I want to win and break the European record“

We spoke with Driss El Himer,

the top European challenger in the real,-Berlin Marathon 2005 :


What are your ambitions in

racing here in Berlin? 

Driss El Himer: My main

objective is to win! But I also want to break the European record

(2:06:36 held jointly by Antonio Pinto of Portugal and Benoit

Zwierzchiewski of France), especially because it is also the French


(Driss’ best is 2:06:48, achieved in

finishing 4th in Paris, 2003)


The weather forecast suggests

that it might be around 20 degrees Celsius on Sunday morning. Would that kind

of temperature be a problem for you?

Driss El Himer: For me, the

ideal weather conditions for a marathon would be 10 degrees, maybe even 15. But

20 degrees is not too bad, so I don’t mind.


Have you seen the course for

yourself and do you know that it’s supposed to be very fast?

Driss El Himer: I haven’t seen

much of the course but I know that it’s very flat and that is fast.


Whom do you consider as your

main rival?

Driss El Himer: I think that

Michael Rotich of Kenya (the fastest man in the field with his time of

2:06:33 in winning in Paris, 2003) will be the main rival, though I

shall have to watch out for

several of the Kenyans. But Rotich is the one I plan to keep a special

eye on.


Do you have a particular

strategy planned?

Driss El Himer: The race

director has set up a pace maker to take the lead group through halfway in 63

minutes. I plan to be in that leading group. Wherever Rotich goes, I will be

with him.


Do you plan to attack at a

certain point?

Driss El Himer: If the

pacemaker takes us to 30 kms, then I think I’ll attack sometime after that, but

it depends.


You were born in Morocco but now have French citizenship after serving in the

French Foreign Legion. How did that come about?

Driss El Himer: I was in the

Moroccan junior team that ran in the World Cross-Country Championships at

Amorebieta in Spain in 1993. I was 18 then. By chance I met a general

from the Legion who was at the prize-giving, Christian Piquemal. He was very

keen on sport, he had a cousin who was French national cross-country champion.

He was trying to build up the sports teams of the Legion and suggested I join.

So I did and several other Moroccans followed, including Mohammed Ouadi, but I

was the first.


Did that mean you received

French citizenship straightaway, or was it after your time in the Legion?

Driss El Himer: I became a

French citizenship after three years in the Legion, that’s the normal


I was stationed at Aubagne and Marseilles, but now my wife and I live

in Strasbourg. (Driss left the Legion in 2001 after serving his

statutory five years)


We didn’t see much of you in

competition this year. Why was that?

Driss El Himer: I was injured

for three months, had a tear in my right hamstring and couldn’t run. Otherwise

I would have run the Rotterdam marathon in April. I ran in the Olympics but didn’t

do well (68th in 2:29:07) but Athens was very tough, it was so hot!


Now you’ve recovered, where

have you been preparing for Berlin?

Driss El Himer: At home in France, including altitude training at Font Romeu. I’ve been

running up to 220 kms per week, feel very fit and ready to race.