April clearly is the marathon month of the year. And this coming weekend will
be the highlight of the month. While the biggest European marathon will be
started in London on Sunday, the traditional Boston Marathon will follow on
Monday. Additionally in Hamburg Germanys second biggest marathon will be
started on Sunday. About 85,000 runners have entered these three races.
Almost 45,000 are on Londons start list. But Englands superstar Paula
Radcliffe will not be among the runners on Sunday. She does not run a spring
marathon this year since she decided to fully concentrate on the Olympics where
she is expected to run the marathon. A year ago she had set the world record in
London, clocking 2:15:25. Nonetheless the London Marathon features a very
strong womens field.
“It is a pity Paula is not running. Because I had hoped to learn
something from her during this marathon“, Sun Yingjie said. The Asian
record holder from China will now be the fastest woman in the field (2:19:39).
If she would win it would be a unique success. Because never before has a
Chinese won one of the big international city marathons. But it will be a tough
task. Among the contenders are Margaret Okayo from Kenya (New York Marathon
winner 2003), Ethiopias Gete Wami and Joyce Chepchumba (Kenya), who has won
London already twice.
Concerning the mens field English bookmakers rate Evans Rutto as the
favourite. The 26 year-old belongs to the group of runners who are coached by
Uta Pippigs coach Dieter Hogen. It was Rutto who produced a sensational time
when he won the Chicago marathon last October. His 2:05:50 stand as an
unofficial world debut record. Another runner from Hogens group will now run
his first marathon in London: John Yuda (Tanzania). Among the high clas
opposition is the Olympic Champion Gezahegne Abera (Ethiopia), who won London
last year. Reigning World Champion Jaouad Gharib (Marocco) and Sammy Korir
(Kenya), who is the second fastest marathoner of all times (2:04:56), will also
run London. Due to an injury world record holder Paul Tergat (Kenya/2:04:55)
had to withdraw from this race.
While the winner in London will receive 55,000 US Dollar first prize in
Boston is 80,000. Last years winner Robert Cheruiyot will be in the race again.
He will meet his countrymen from Kenya: Rodgers Rop, Martin Lel, Timothy
Cherigat, Laban Kipkemboi and Steven Kiogora. The later three are also coached
by Dieter Hogen. There seems to be a clear favourite in the womens race: World
Champion Catherina Ndereba (Kenya).
Around 20,000 runners have entered the 108th Boston Marathon. It will be the
first time that the women will have a separate start. They will start almost
half an hour before the mens elite field and the mass race will begin. It is
quite an historic step for the Boston Marathon. Because it was here where women
made marathon history. Back in 1966 it was Roberta Gibb who secretly ran the
marathon. But one year later there was a real scandal, because Katherine
Switzer became the first woman to run the race with an official bib number. She
had filled in the entry form, but put in just the initial of her first name.
Attempts to throw her out of the race failed. Katherine Switzer finished the
Boston Marathon. But it took another five years until women were officially
accepted at this race.
Ironically many years later it was the Boston Marathon that put together
some of the finest women marathon fields ever. Uta Pippig wrote history in 1996
when she became the first woman to win the race three times in a row.
Additionally the race in 1996 was the centenary event. Until today that was the
biggest marathon race ever.
Separating the womens elite field Boston follows other big marathons like
London or New York. Women will be much more in the centre of attention now. Uta
Pippig welcomes this change: “The elite women runners will now be able to
spot each other much better during the race. That is a big advantage for the
development of the race.“