The METRO Group Düsseldorf Marathon is Germany's newest upcoming event over the classic distance. Having signed world-class runner Wilfred Kigen for the sixth edition for their race organisers hope to make another step forward regarding the quality of their race. While Wilfred Kigen will chase the 2:09:47 course record the expected 400,000 spectators could well witness some thrilling races by German athletes as well. For years no race in the country has managed to put together such an exciting national field. Qualifying for the World Championships' marathon in Berlin in August will be the main goal for them. Adding other running events organisers of the METRO Group Düsseldorf Marathon expect about 10,000 athletes from more than 65 nations to take part on Sunday.
Never has there been a runner of the calibre of Wilfred Kigen at the previous editions of the METRO Group Dü seldorf Marathon. The 34 year-old has a personal best of 2:07:33 and has won the Frankfurt Marathon three times in a row from 2005 to 2007. "I have trained very well and want to break the course record on Sunday. My aim is to run a low 2:09," said Wilfred Kigen. In contrast to him the defending champion Bellor Yator (Kenya), who had established the present course record a year earlier in 2007, had been unlucky because he had to withdraw from the race through injury at the very last moment. "Unfortunately he stepped on a stone when training in Kenya. Bellor suffered a foot injury and is unable to run a marathon," said Christoph Kopp, who is the elite field coordinator of the METRO Group Düsseldorf Marathon. Pacemakers are instructed to guide Wilfred Kigen through half way on Sunday in 64:20 minutes and then carry on at least to the 30 k mark.
While ironically the German marathon championships will take place next week in Mainz it is this race further down the Rhine in Düsseldorf that has attracted the national elite runners. Apart from London Marathon champion Irina Mikitenko and Sabrina Mockenhaupt, who has decided not to run a marathon this spring, all the other major names will compete in the METRO Group Düsseldorf Marathon. The men's race will see the first duel between Falk Cierpinski (son of double Olympic champion Waldemar, who is his coach) and André Pollmächer. They were the strongest German marathon runners in 2008. 30 year-old Cierpinski had improved to 2:13:30 in Berlin while 26 year-old Pollmächer, ran a fine debut in Frankfurt with 2:14:18. Additionally Martin Beckmann (2:14:30 in Frankfurt in 2008) is also on the start list for Düsseldorf. "I am looking forward to this," said André Pollmächer, who had caused a major upset when taking the European 10,000 m Challenge in 2007. "In March I have trained very well in Mexico," said Pollmächer and added with regard of the current crisis: "I returned healthy." Pollmächer will go for a 66 minute pace for half-way on Sunday. "It will then depend on the weather if we will be able to maintain that pace." Cierpinski, who suffers of a minor hip problem, might choose a slightly slower approach. No German runner has clocked a sub 2:13 time, which is the Berlin qualifying standard, since 2000.
Germany's defending champion Melanie Kraus is the favourite again for Sunday's race. The 34 year-old, whose personal best still stands at 2:27:58 from her marathon debut in 2000, said: "May be I have the chance to finally clock a new personal best on Sunday." Susanne Hahn, who intends to run a more aggressive race than usual, could be the main rival for Melanie Kraus. She has a personal best of 2:29:33 and still needs to break the German qualifying standard for Berlin (2:32). Claudia Dreher is another one running the METRO Group Düsseldorf Marathon and hoping to qualify for Berlin. To be nominated for the marathon team she probably has to run faster than Ulrike Maisch in last week's Hamburg Marathon (2:34:28) and finish ahead of debutant Melanie Schulz.
More information is available online at: www.metrogroup-marathon.de.
André Pollmächer, Susanne Hahn, Melanie Kraus and Claudia Dreher with their bib numbers in Düsseldorf. Photo credit: Victah Sailer / photorun.net