The Berlin Marathon has produced two world records in the last three years, and
with Tegla Loroupe of Kenya, who set one of those records running against
Olympic champion Naoko Takahashi of Japan on Sunday, chances are for a hat
Both women claim to be in their best form, and are talking about a finishing
time of two hours, 18 minutes. Loroupes world best, set here in 1999 is
A sub-2.20 time would represent another major stride forward in womens
athletic performance. Marathon running for women was frowned upon, indeed
actively discouraged until the late 60s. Nevertheless, Violet Piercys 3.40.22,
run in London in 1926 is generally recognised as the first womens world best.
But it wasn until 1971 that Beth Bonner ran the first sub-three hours, with her
2.55.22 in New York.
Times have plummeted since then, with the introduction of womens
championship races, including their first Olympic appearance in 1984, and the
big city marathons. Jaqueline Hansen of the USA ran the first sub-2.40
(2.38.19) in 1974, Grete Waitz of Norway - a seven-time New York Marathon
winner - ran the first sub-2.30 (2.27.33) in 1979, and Loroupe has taken it to
the verge of 2.20, here in Berlin two years ago.
The Berlin event has blossomed since the fall of the Wall ten years ago, and
the restoration of the city as the capital. Sundays 28th edition of the race
will feature close to 40,000 runners and inline skaters, and the world record
course puts the race on a par with New York, London and Boston.