The hand cycling race at the 32nd real,- BERLIN-MARATHON 2005

While the wheelchair competitors have been part of the

BERLIN-MARATHON since 1981, the hand cyclists celebrated their premier

at the 24th Bewag BERLIN HALF MARATHON in 2004, and then joined in the

marathon race at the 31st real,- BERLIN MARATHON in 2004.  This

year they had their own race for the second time.


The goal was to beat last year’s course record. The premier race for

the hand cyclists took place in very bad weather, resulting in a really

unacceptable time of 1:17:02h for the fast Berlin course by Errol


That was to change with this year’s strong competition under sunny,

warm, and calm skies at the 32nd real,- BERLIN-MARATHON. There were

almost 130 male and female cyclists at the start on both lanes at their

2nd marathon in Berlin, and it was to be a fast and exciting race, even

though the terrain did not offer many opportunities for attacks and

break-aways. Somehow or another it was almost always possible to close

up any gaps and to gain energy for the next attempt, a chance as well

for the low-lying cyclists in category B.  Thus a group of five

reached the finish together — almost at the same time as the leading

wheelchair competitors Heinz Frei and Marcel Hug, even though the

cyclists had started 15 minutes afterwards.

It was a good thing that there were 3 gates at the finish

It was a good thing that there were 3 gates at the finish—while the

wheelchair athletes took the middle gate, the hand cyclists champions

split up between the side gates. Wim Decleir from Belgium and Max Weber

- category B – from southern Germany (2nd place) chose the right side

together with Johan Reekers from the Netherlands and Norbert Mosandl

(GER) (5th place), while Elmar Sternath of Austria chose the left side

for a better chance at a good finish. He shared 3rd place with Johan

Reekers. With a  time of 1:13:32h, they were 3 ½ minutes faster

than the champion in 2004. 

It could not have been more dramatic

The next group with the top 2 women and 7 men arrived at the finish

2 minutes later. It could not have been more dramatic—Monique van der

Vorst of Holland, the European and World Champion, has won all of the

races for the past three years, including the race in Berlin last year,

ahead of Andrea Eskau from Apolda, Germany. This year Andrea not only

caught the best back wheel, she also profited from the misfortune of

the Dutch woman, who had to disrupt her final sprint due to a

meandering photojournalist. The protest by Monique was cleared up

immediately at the finish. 

Top official, Klaus Rüppel, made the decision

The top official, Klaus Rüppel, who observed what happened, gave his

verdict. As there was no hindrance from any of the competitors, there

was to be no change in the ranking of the finish.  Monique had to

accept her second place ranking under the motto: “bad luck,” while it

will not damage her self-confidence or put a scratch on her three years

of dominance. According to the athletes, the champions winning time of

1:15:50h is a new world best performance. Monica Wetterström of Sweden

came in third, who had to wait (too) long to have her ranking verified.

It is very difficult for the judges to identify the athletes at the

great speeds with which they cross the finish.

New World Top Performance

There was a new world top performance for the category A, as well.

Christoph Etzlstorfer (AUT), who has been well known in Berlin for

years for his wheelchair victories in the category T2, crossed the

finish in a fantastic time of 1:28:05h.

There is still a need in the hand cycling scene for the compilation of

statistics, so that both event organisers and the media have these

numbers available.

Dr. Reiner Piltz


Women (open category):

1. Andrea Eskau (GER)  1:15:50

2. Monique van der Vorst  1:15:51

3. Monica Wetterström (SWE) 1:24:38

Men (open category):

1. Wim Decleir (BEL)  1:13:32

2. Max Weber (GER)  1:13:32

3. Elmar Sternath (AUT) 1:13:33

    Johan Reekers (NED) 1:13:33