Ethiopia’s Tigst Assefa will return to the streets of Berlin to defend her title at the 49thhh edition of the Berlin Marathon scheduled for this Sunday in Berlin Germany.
Assefa wrote her name in the history books of the race as she carved her express way through the Brandenburg Gate to achieve the sensational performance with 2:15.37.
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 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 I am not thinking about 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 and that is 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 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 respectively, 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.
- Tigst Assefa (ETH) 2:15.37
- Sheila Chepkirui (KEN) 2:17.29
- Tigist Abayechew (ETH) 2:18.03
- Workenesh Edesa (ETH) 2:18.51
- Hiwot Gebrekidan (ETH) 2:19.10
- Hitomi Niiya (JPN) 2:19.24
- Zeineba Yimer (ETH) 2:19.28
- Etagegn Woldu (ETH) 2:20.03
- Gutemi Imana (ETH) 2:20.11
- Delvine Meringor (ROM) 2:20.49
- Helen Tola (ETH) 2:21.01
- Dera Dida (ETH) 2:21.11
- Fikrte Wereta (ETH) 2:22.50
- Charlotte Purdue (GBR) 2:23.26
- Senbere Teferi (ETH) 2:24.11