Cross Challenge on 24 October 2021

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Record entry and a superstar

Preview of the 29th real,- BERLIN-MARATHON


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.

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