Fastest Women’s Field Ever in Berlin Marathon
The most elite women’s field in its history will assemble for the BMW Berlin Marathon on Sunday. An unparalleled total of seven runners with personal bests under 2:20 will compete, including defending champion and course record holder Tigst Assefa.
Last year, the Ethiopian surged through the Brandenburg Gate to deliver a remarkable performance, clocking in at 2:15:37.
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Tigst Assefa Aims for Berlin Marathon Course Record
Tigst Assefa’s showing at last year’s BMW Berlin Marathon was a major upset. She improved her personal best by over 18 minutes and shaved more than two and a half minutes off the course record with her time of 2:15:37. “I’m delighted to be running again in Berlin. Last year’s race was an unexpected success for me. I think I can run even faster on Sunday; a further improvement would be a success,” Tigst Assefa said. When asked if a new course record would make her consider aiming for the world record of 2:14:04, she was more reserved: “Much can happen, so I cannot say at the moment what the halfway split will be. I want to improve my time but am not contemplating the world record.”
A Kenyan rival, Sheila Chepkirui, who boasts a personal best of 2:17:29, may also match the rapid pace. “My aim is to break my personal best. I can see myself finishing the first half on Sunday in around 68 minutes,” said the 32-year-old Berlin Marathon.
Both athletes are also targeting the Olympic qualifying time. Given the fierce competition in Ethiopia and Kenya, the times required to secure one of the three Olympic slots can be extremely fast. Two other Ethiopians with world-class credentials, Tigist Abayechew, with a personal best of 2:18:03, and Workenesh Edesa, best of 2:18:51, are making return visits to Berlin.
A year ago, they finished third and fourth, respectively, joining Tigst Assefa to set an unofficial world team record of 6:52:31.
“The women’s course record of 2:15:37 is an absolute world-class time. But, given the strong field, we hope that it can be broken,” said race director Mark Milde. The elite women’s field has both breadth and depth. Japan’s Hitomi Niiya, with a best of 2:19:24, may well aim to break their national record, set 18 years ago on this course when Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi ran a 2:19:12 to win. Another contender is Ethiopian Senbere Teferi, whose best is 2:24:11 and holds the world record for 5km on the road with 14:29.
A fierce competition among German women is also anticipated. The local lineup is the strongest in Berlin’s history, featuring five athletes with personal bests under 2:30:00. The Schöneborn twins, Deborah and Rabea, Domenika Mayer, Kristina Hendel, and Laura Hottenrott have all posted times ranging from 2:25 to 2:27, making the race for potential Olympic slots an exciting one.