26 Sep

Berlin Beckons

BMW Berlin MarathonOver 40,000 competitors are expected in Berlin tomorrow (Sunday 27 September) for what will be the city's 43rd staging of the marathon. As ever, there will be high expectations for world record breaking performances, while the race will play host thousands of international runners making their debut over the 26.2 mile distance.

The famously fast course starts in the centre of Berlin, between the Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column, taking runners out to the west of the city, before heading east past the Reichstag and television tower. The route then leads down to the south west of the city, passing the iconic Kaiser-Willhelm Church and Postdamer Platz. The finishing straight is on one of Berlin's most famous streets, Unter den Linden, with the finish line just through the Brandenburg Gate.

The German capital was again the scene of a world record last year as Kenya's Dennis Kimetto finished in an incredible 2:02:57. The performance gave a further hint that we are inching closer to the magical two-hour mark.  In the ladies field, Ethopia's Tirfi Tsegaye ran a personal best to win in 2:20:18.

Heading the elite men's field is Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge. The 30-year-old boasts a marathon PB of 2:04:05, set in Berlin two years ago, and with Emmanuel Mutai as part of the field, Kipchoge said a fast time is a realistic ambition: “If everything comes together in Berlin, something very special can happen. I’m convinced that my training partner Emmanuel Mutai and I can push on together towards a new world record.”

In the women's competition, British interest will lie with Aly Dixon and Sonia Samuels, who will both be aiming for Olympic selection and a qualifying time for 2:31. Heading the field will likely be Gladys Cherono, who set a 2:20:03 in Dubia this year, Aberu Kebede, who has twice won Berlin and Meseret Hailu.

While the focus of attention will be on whether Berlin can produce another record breaking performance,  the marathon is a stand out in the calendar for many recreational, club and first-timers. With an enthralling course and numerous iconic landmarks, it is frequently referred to as the favourite in many runners' CV.