Sifan Hassan goes for world record at the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON
Philipp Pflieger (GER), Richard Ringer (GER), Sifan Hassan (NED), Anna Hahner (GER), Patrick Lange (GER) (from left to right)
© SCC EVENTS/Petko Beier
It is highly likely that for the first time in many years a woman will produce the highlight of the 39th edition of the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON. It is the Dutch European record holder Sifan Hassan who heads the start list of Sunday’s race. Her goal is to improve her personal best of 65:15 on the fast Berlin course. And she even wants to give it a go at the world record of 64:51, which is just 24 seconds faster than her PB. While a group of Kenyan runners should compete for victory in the men’s race national interest focuses very much on Richard Ringer. The European 10,000 m Cup winner from London 2018 will run his first half marathon on Sunday.
With a record entry of 35,551 runners the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON is the biggest race of its kind in German speaking territory by some distance. Adding other events staged parallel to the half marathon the total entry figure is 37,087. The race will start at 10.05 am local time on Sunday and boosts a new start and finish area near to the Brandenburg Gate. Actually, start and finish lines are almost identical to the ones in the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON.
The men’s race
Anything else than another Kenyan victory would be a major surprise on Sunday. In the past 17 years Kenyans have taken this race on 15 occasions. While defending champion Eric Kiptanui had to cancel his start due to an injury on short notice there is another Kenyan on the start list who has already run sub one hour: Wilfred Kimitei improved to a fine 59:40 in the Ras Al Khaimah half marathon in the United Arab Emirates last year. His strongest challenger might well be fellow-Kenyan William Wanjiku who has a PB of 60:56. Additionally fellow-countryman Paul Kiprop is a newcomer who could cause an upset.
Meanwhile Richard Ringer clearly has the potential to become Germany’s next top road runner and to follow in Arne Gabius’ foot steps. The 30 year-old has already run beyond the 30k point in last year’s Frankfurt Marathon as a pacemaker, passing the half marathon point in 64:52.
„I want to run a good pace. Whether this will lead to a 61, 62 or 63 minutes’ finish remains to be seen,“ said Richard Ringer during today’s press conference after just flying in from his high altitude training camp in Flagstaff, US. Ringer intends to focus on the track again later this year. However Sunday’s race could be another major step towards a road running career for the German.
With Philipp Pflieger and Amanal Petros there are two other Germans in the race, who hope to improve their personal bests. Pflieger ran 63:14 in this race a year ago. „I aim for a personal best, otherwise I would not be here. In hope to go sub 63 minutes,“ said Pflieger. Petros ran his half marathon debut in February, when he clocked 63:32 in Verona.
The women’s race
The women’s course record should finally be broken on Sunday. It was back in 2006 when Kenya’s Edith Masai took the race with 67:16. Only once since that race has a woman clocked a time of sub 68 minutes in an event that recorded numerous top times in the men’s race. „Indeed we need to catch up with the women regarding world-class times,“ said Race Director Mark Milde.
There may even be a first world record in the history of the GENERALI BERLIN HALF MARATHON. Competing in a Berlin road race for the first time Sifan Hassan intends to make an immediate impact. „I will try to attack the world record. I will see how it goes on Sunday,“ said Sifan Hassan, who received Dutch citizenship in November 2013. It was on the day of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON last September, when Hassan broke the European record in Copenhagen with a time of 65:15. „However I did not really prepare properly for that race, since I had only two weeks of half marathon training. This time it is different. I decided not to compete at the World Cross Country Championships and focus on this race instead,“ explained Sifan Hassan, who is a member of the Oregon project of US coach Alberto Salazar and already ran a 5 k world record of 14:44 this year.
While Hassan is the big favourite there is another athlete who could be capable of running a time in the region of the current course record. Kenya’s Veronica Nyaruai has a personal best of 67:58.
Germany’s Anna Hahner will run a comeback race after a long injury. „It is not about time on Sunday. I am just happy to be back healthy,“ said the marathon specialist, who has a half marathon PB of 73:13. Germany’s current marathon champion Fabienne Amrhein will be in the field as well. She has a personal best of 72:56.
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