Former Boston Marathon champion Dire Tune and the reigning European Champion Zivile Balciunaite have been signed for the Commerzbank Frankfurt Marathon. Organisers, who announced these two names today, are eager to improve their women’s course record of 2:25:12.
Recently Kenyans Wilson Kipsang (PB: 2:07:13) and Wilfred Kigen (2:07:33) had been signed to run the Commerzbank Frankfurt Marathon. The race, which boosts an IAAF Gold Label, will take place on 31 October. A record field of around 13,000 runners is expected to take part in the race.
While the men’s course record has been broken a couple of times in recent years and now stands at 2:06:14 the women’s best has stood for five years now. Russia’s Alevtina Biktimirova had won in 2:25:12 in 2005.
With the signing of Dire Tune a fast women’s race could very well materialize. The Ethiopian had some extraordinary success in the marathon in recent years. And her personal best of 2:24:40 is a good half minute faster than the course record of the Commerzbank Frankfurt Marathon. Around two and a half years ago Tune was regarded as one of the favourites in the race for the Olympic marathon gold medal. She had started the Olympic year by winning the Houston Marathon in January (clocking her PB of 2:24:40) and then taking the Boston title as well three months later with 2:25:25. In this race she beat Frankfurt’s course record holder Alevtina Biktimirova by just two seconds after a thrilling duel.
But probably the effort it took to win in Boston harmed her form in the Olympic Marathon. In Beijing, Tune had to be content with 15th place. Additionally she then ran the New York Marathon as well, where she finished seventh. In 2009, Tune returned to Boston and this time she was the one beaten in a sprint finish. It looked as if she would retain her Boston crown, but before she broke the tape Kenya’s Salina Kosgei snatched victory. In the closest women’s finish in the history of the Boston Marathon Tune was beaten by just one second. In the summer she again could not show her potential in a major championship. In the Berlin World Championships she finished 23rd in 2009.
This year however Tune chose a different approach to the marathon. After running six races in less than two years in 2008 and 2009 the Commerzbank Frankfurt Marathon will be her first one in 2010. Still only 25 years old Tune hopes to bring her marathon career back on track with a great performance on 31October. She has run a couple of half marathons plus shorter distances in 2010. While her personal best in the half marathon stands at 67:18 she ran 67:58 in February finishing fifth in Ras Al Khaimah (United Arab Emirates).
In contrast to Tune, Lithuania’s Zivile Balciunaite achieved the biggest triumph of her career little more than a month ago. The 31-year-old took the gold medal at the European Championships in convincing style. In tremendous heat, Balciunaite dominated the marathon in the final stages. She finished in 2:31:14 and was more than a minute ahead of her nearest rival.
It will be exactly three months after her Barcelona race when she competes at the Commerzbank Frankfurt Marathon. On the fast course Balciunaite intends to transform her fine championships’ form into a good time although it will already be her fourth marathon this year. Her personal best of 2:25:15, which she ran when placing second in Tokyo, is five years old. In between she also had another great championships’ race, when she came in 11th at the Olympic Marathon in 2008.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF