Hannover, GermanyCourse records will be the target in both the men’s and the women’s race of the TUI Hannover Marathon, which will be staged on Sunday (6). A group of Kenyans and Ethiopians are the ones capable to break the current records of 2:08:52 and 2:31:19.
A total of 14,221 runners are expected to take part in the various running events of the race.
The TUI Hannover Marathon is an IAAF Bronze Label Race.
In the men’s race three athletes have been entered with personal bests of sub 2:10. It is Ethiopia’s Megersa Bacha Chikuala who features the fastest time of the elite runners. The 27-year-old has clocked 2:08:55 when he took third in last year’s Turin Marathon. In that race he just hold off the challenge of Peter Kurui, who crossed the line just one second behind with a personal best of 2:08:56 for fourth place. Kurui has the advantage that he knows the fast Hannover course. A year ago he was second in this race with 2:09:35.
While Chikuala and Kurui could be involved in another duel there are a couple of more athletes who are in with a chance. Kenya’s Amos Mutai also ran well in Hannover a year ago coming third with 2:10:07. His personal best stands at 2:09:35. Joseph Kiptum has recently shown very promising form, when he clocked a personal best in the Berlin half marathon with 60:26. The Kenyan should be able to improve his personal best of 2:10:07 on Sunday.
Abdisa Sori Bedada (Ethiopia/PB: 2:10:26) and Johnstone Chepkwony (Kenya/2:11:33) could also do well.
Organisers have been unlucky with a couple of late withdrawals. Among them was Kenya’s Olympic Steeplechase Champion from Sydney 2000, Reuben Kosgei.
It would be a surprise if the course record did not fall in the women’s race provided weather conditions will be fine as forecasted. The big favourite comes from Ethiopia: Eyerusalem Kuma has a personal best of 2:24:55. The 31-year-old has placed second in Amsterdam last year, when she achieved her personal best. But she has already run a marathon this year, when she was seventh in Tokyo with 2:28:36. So it remains to be seen how fresh Kuma will be in the final stages.
Another woman who wants to follow a 73:00 half marathon pace is Leah Malot. The 39-year-old Kenyan will run her sixth marathon on Sunday and so far has a personal best of 2:29:17. "My training has gone well and I really want to run sub 2:30 again. It would be nice if I could break my personal best on Sunday," said Leah Malot, who had done very well in Cross Country many years ago. She was sixth in the World Cross Country Championships in 2000.
A German athlete to watch is Katharina Heinig. The 22-year-old daughter of former world-class runner Katrin Dörre, who had won the Olympic marathon bronze medal in 1988 (the year before Katharina was born) and won the London Marathon three times, had been unlucky a year ago. With five kilometres to go in she developed a stress fracture in her foot.
"But I desperately wanted to finish. So I carried on despite the pain," recalls Heinig, who then finished in a personal best of 2:42:10. It took her many months to recover from the injury and there was no chance to run an autumn marathon.
"In September I could start running again, but I still had to be careful. Then in January we went to Spain for training and all was going well there. Three weeks ago we came back from high altitude training in Kenya. It was very motivating for me to see all the Kenyan world-class runners training in Iten", says Heinig, who is coached by her father Wolfgang.
On Sunday Heinig will run her third marathon. "My aim is to clearly improve in Hannover and I want to run well under 2:40," said Heinig, who will get support from both her parents along the course. A result around 2:35 would be a good and realistic improvement for her.