BMW BERLIN-MARATHON on Sunday with fastest ever women’s field:
Tigst Assefa targets course record once more in Berlin
The best elite women’s field in its history will line up for the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON on Sunday. An unprecedented total of seven runners with personal bests under 2:20 will be competing, among them the defending champion and course record holder Tigst Assefa. Last year, the Ethiopian carved her expressway through the Brandenburg Gate to achieve the sensational performance with 2:15:37.
A record number of 47,912 runners from 156 nations have entered the 49th edition of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. Germany’s most spectacular road race is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM) and is also a Platinum Label Road Race of World Athletics.
Tigst Assefa’s performance at the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON last year was a major surprise. She improved her best by over 18 minutes and chopped more than two and a half minutes off the course record with her time of 2:15:37. “I’m delighted to be running again in Berlin. Last year’s race proved an unexpected success for me. I think I can run even faster on Sunday; a further improvement would be a success,” said Tigst Assefa. In response to the question of whether a new course record would mean setting sights on the world record of 2:14:04, she was less forthcoming: “Much can happen, so I cannot say at the moment what would be the halfway split. I want to improve my time but am not considering the world record.”
A Kenyan rival could also be capable of matching a very fast pace. Sheila Chepkirui has a personal best of 2:17:29 going into the race. “My aim is to break my personal best. I can imagine going through the first half on Sunday in around 68 minutes,” said the 32-year-old. Both athletes have an extra target in the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON, the Olympic qualifying time. Given the keenness of competition in both Ethiopia and Kenya, the kind of times required to secure one of the three Olympic places can be super fast.
Two more Ethiopians have world-class credentials in their respective bids to break 2:19: Tigist Abayechew, personal best of 2:18:03, and Workenesh Edesa, best of 2:18:51, are making a return visit to Berlin. A year ago, they finished third and fourth, combining with Tigst Assefa to achieve an unofficial world team record of 6:52:31.
“The women’s course record of 2:15:37 is an absolute world-class time. But, given the strong field, we hope that this can be broken,” said the race director, Mark Milde.
The elite women’s field has breadth as well as depth. Japan’s Hitomi Niiya has a best of 2:19:24 and could well attack their national record, set 18 years ago on this very course when the Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi ran 2:19:12 for victory. Another to note is the Ethiopian Senbere Teferi, whose best is 2:24:11 and is a world record holder for 5km on the road with 14:29.
The home contingent also looks strong with the best field of German women in the history of the event, including five showing personal bests of under 2:30:00. The Schöneborn twins, Deborah and Rabea, Domenika Mayer, Kristina Hendel, and Laura Hottenrott have all run within the range of 2:25 to 2:28, making the race for possible Olympic places a thrilling one.
Elite Women with Personal Bests
Sheila Chepkirui KEN 2:17:29
Hiwot Gebrekidan ETH2:19:10
Fikrte Wereta ETH 2:22:50
Margaret Muriuki KEN 2:23:52
Senbere Teferi ETH 2:24:11
Deborah Schöneborn GER 2:25:52
Fabienne Schlumpf SUI 2:26:14
Kristina Hendel GER 2:27:29
Laura Hottenrott GER 2:28:02
Angie Orjuela COL 2:29:12
Melina Wolf GER Debüt