Hiwot hones in on Berlin record

The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON course record is firmly in the crosshairs of an Abbott World Marathon Majors debutant this weekend.

Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebrekidan is the fastest woman in the world this year after registering a new personal best of 2:19:35 when she won in Milan in April. 

The 26-year-old revealed she is aiming for a halfway split under 69 minutes on Sunday, which current forecasts have as being a testing 24ºC.

“I’ve been preparing for the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON for a long time and want to run my personal best on Sunday," said Gebrekidan at Thursday’s press conference in Berlin.

“I’d actually like to hold back in the first half. But I nevertheless plan to go through halfway in just under 69 minutes.”

Such a split at halfway would put Gebrekidan not only in contention for Gladys Cherono's 2:18:11, but also Worknesh Degefa's Ethiopian record of 2:17:41, set in Dubai n in 2019.

Her fellow Ethiopian Shure Demise also has a personal best in her sights. The experienced 25-year-old has 12 marathons on her CV, and sees the German capital’s famous roads as the perfect opportunity to break new ground.

“I’ve spoken with other women runners and know what a fast course Berlin is. I have high expectations for myself and want to break my personal record,” said Demise, whose best currently stands at 2:20:59 and could well go under 2:20. 

Race director Mark Milde, added: “We’ll have to wait and see what times are actually run. But a pace like that (69 minutes at halfway) would certainly make it possible. And a course record would be great.” 

Kenya’s Fancy Chemutai is a late  addition to the women’s field. She currently boasts a personal best of 2:24:27 and will be running only her second marathon.

If she were able to convert her enormous potential to good effect in the classic distance she may well be in contention for the win. Her half marathon best of 64:52 makes her the seventh fastest woman at the distance of all time. No other woman on the Berlin start list has such a fast half marathon performance.

These women will be among 25,000 runners taking on this year’s race, a reduced field from normal editions, but a testament to the work put in by organisers SCC to bring mass participation marathons back at the highest level.

“Months ago we set ourselves the challenge of organising a BMW BERLIN-MARATHON this autumn which would be safe for all participants,” said CEO Jurgen Locke.

“This we’ve achieved brilliantly as a team. The event possesses a clear relevance for the current situation and how it will develop over the next few weeks. We want participants to be able to stand on a start line again and see smiles and laughter.” 

Read the elite men's race preview here.