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Women's elite and skaters with top fields at the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON

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  • Women's tops consider strong race
  • Skater elite with ambitions
  • Marathon with symbolic power
  • "Kaká" with marathon debut

Berlin is settling into its starting blocks and ready to welcome the international marathon community. Proof of this goes beyond the flags on display around the city and the blue line of the marathon course which has been marked out since the beginning of the week but also the MARATHON EXPO which opened its doors at 2pm today. “You can feel it everywhere you go, Berlin is delighted to welcome its guests,” said Jürgen Lock, Chief Executive Officer of SCC EVENTS. The total of around 70,000 participants in all competitions shows the event is getting back to the times before the Corona epidemic. “I’m delighted that more and more runners are drawn to the marathon, the king of all the distances,” added Lock and highlighted the parity in numbers of women and men taking part in the 25 to 55 age groups. “During the pandemic many women discovered running and they now make up a third of our participants,” added Lock when discussing the growing numbers of women running the race. “The aim of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON is to capture people’s imagination for the subject of running. Emotions are infectious, you can see that in the Bambini Run for up to nine-year-olds,” reflected the event’s chief executive. Jürgen Lock also sees the social engagement aspect as an important symbol for society, citing the example of more than 7,500 volunteers making their contribution throughout the event for the city of Berlin and the running community.

This year many of the hygiene restrictions resulting from the Corona Virus were removed although the organisers continue to take extreme care. For example, hygiene restrictions are in force in spaces reserved for elite athletes and in the Media Centre as well as where food and drink are consumed. The wearing of masks at all times for participants is no longer in force.

Olympic Champion Bart Swings takes to his skates Inline
Three leading inline skaters on the international scene were among those on stage at Thursday’s press conference held by the organisers SCC EVENTS: Bart Swings of Belgium and the German duo of Felix Rijhnen and Michelle Uhrig, the latter very much a hometown product while Rijhnen is from Darmstadt. Their conversation showed how the links between Inline Skating and Ice Speed Skating have grown closer in recent years. Bart Swings, seven times a winner of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON title, won Olympic gold at the Games in Beijing last winter. “It was simply incredible that my dream of an Olympic title became reality,” explained Swings.

“My tactical experience from Inline Skating was a big help when it came to the ice,” said the Belgian, who will start as favourite in the Powerslide Team colours on Saturday with team-mate Felix Rijhnen in support. Rihnen won the Berlin title in 2019 and was a surprise qualifier for the German Ice Speed Skating team in Beijing. “My 13th place was a big success for me. A year ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of reaching that kind of level, having Beijing as a realistic target. Of course, it was also an unforgettable experience, being there when Bart won his gold medal,” Rijhnen added. The Ice Speed Skater Michelle Uhrig will relish being on her home patch as a member of the Berliner TSC for the race on Saturday afternoon. “The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON has a special importance for me since I pass by my grand parents’ house and my friends and family will be watching.”

Top fields at the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON
The American marathon star Keira D’Amato heads the women’s elite field for this Sunday’s BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. The 37-year-old national record holder is the fastest woman in the field with her time of 2:19:12 and the only one to have broken the landmark barrier of 2:20. She hopes to go even better and improve on her North American record: “I’d love to run faster than that in Berlin, said D’Amato at Thursday’s press conference. “To win a great race such as Berlin would be a dream and a great career ambition.” Keira D’Amato can expect high quality competition and it is highly possible that victory would require a time around that of her current US record or even the course record, currently held by the Kenyan Gladys Cherono at 2:18:11. Alongside D’Amato on the start line will be seven women with personal bests of under 2:23:00. The array of talent and strength in depth among the elite makes this the strongest women’s field in the history of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON.

A host of women runners will be aiming to take full advantage of Berlin’s renowned fast course and break 2:20 for the first time: among them are the Ethiopians Gutemi Shone Imana, whose best is 2:20:11, Workenesh Edesa, who has run 2:20:24 and Sisay Gola whose current fastest time is 2:20:50, not forgetting the Kenyans Maurine Chepkemoi with a personal best of 2:20:18 and Vibian Chepkirui, the latter having won the Vienna City Marathon for the second time in succession this April with 2:20:59. “I want to break my best time and run under 2:20 – of course, I want to win,” said Vibian Chepkirui.

Following last year’s victory in the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON by the Ethiopian Gotytom Gebreslase on her debut at the distance, two other women encountering the event for the first time could well make an impact: Rosemary Wanjiru of Kenya and the Ethiopian Nigsti Haftu. Their potential is evident since Wanjiru has a half marathon best of of 65:34 and Haftu has run 66:17 for the distance. “I feel ready to face the marathon,” said Rosemary Wanjiru. The high quality in the women’s field is clear to see, despite the late withdrawal of Nancy Jelagat who has a best of 2:19:31. The Kenyan has suffered knee and hip problems which left her unable to train but hopes to be in top form for next year’s BMW BERLIN-MARATHON.

Given a busy summer schedule which included the World and European Championships where almost every elite German runner was involved in one championship or another, none of the top flight will be involved in Sunday’s race. But one to watch among the rising talent is Katja Fischer, a member of the MARATHON TEAM BERLIN, whose best is 2:42:39.

Keira D’Amato has had a highly distinctive running career so far. She was a committed runner in school and college before injury appeared to curtail her career. Seven years later, while in the meantime she had married, become a mother of two and was working in real estate, she made a comeback at the age of 30 and achieved a sensational leap into world class.

The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON played a part in her remarkable rise since she improved six minutes on her personal best here in 2019 in running 2:34:55. “I had a very good race here and that’s why I’ve come back. The course is very fast and really flat, pancake flat, the organisation is top class and the support from the spectators is fantastic,” said Keira D’Amato. Following the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON in 2019, the 37-year-old ran a series of personal bests, culminating in winning the Houston Marathon in January and breaking the US record with 2:19:12. As a reserve on the American team for the World Championships, she received a late call-up but ran outstandingly well to finish eighth. Despite the shorter than usual interval since the World Championships in Eugene in July, Keira D’Amato is optimistic that she can produce a strong performance in Berlin.

Registration for 2023 opens on September 29
Anyone carried away by the emotions of the marathon weekend ahead so that they couldn’t bear to miss the 2023 event can register their entry from next Thursday, September 29. The period for registration will be from that date to November 17 for the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. The organisers SCC EVENTS will announce the results of registration at the beginning of December.

Special Guest “Kaka”
A Football World Champion will be on stage for Friday’s press conference. “Kaka”, World Cup and Ballon D’Or winner, he’ll be celebrating his debut at the distance in the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON and talk about his passion for running.