When the 30th Mainova Frankfurt Marathon was held in 2011, Wilson Kipsang marked the event with a phenomenal course record of 2:03:42, positioning himself as the second-fastest marathoner globally at that time. Over a decade has passed, and this record remains untouched. However, come this Sunday, the 40th anniversary edition, which factors in the two-year gap caused by the pandemic, could witness a new record if weather conditions are ideal. Leading participants, including reigning champion Brimin Misoi and Vienna Marathon victor Samwel Mailu, have set their eyes on this. It's essential to note Guye Adola of Ethiopia, who boasts a 2:03:46 personal best, the fastest in the current lineup. An exhilarating competition is also anticipated in the women's category with seven contenders boasting times between 2:21:00 and 2:24:00. Germany's own Simon Boch and Miriam Dattke are targeting the Olympic qualifying time.
Registrations for the event have been overwhelming with 23,726 participants from 115 nations, out of which 13,036 will partake in the marathon. The marathon has been recognized as an Elite Label Road Race by World Athletics.
The press event in Frankfurt began on a somber note, with a tribute to the late Christoph Kopp, who significantly contributed to the Frankfurt and Berlin Marathons. Christoph's son, Philipp, now takes the reins as the Elite Race Co-ordinator.
Men’s race preview: Course record could be challenged
Christoph Kopp’s son Philipp has taken over the role of Elite Race Co-ordinator in Frankfurt. Three of strongest contenders in the men’s elite field had already been recruited by his father for the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon: Brimin Misoi, Samwel Mailu, both from Kenya and Guye Adola of Ethiopia. The latter had to withdraw from the event a few years ago because of injury so this will be his debut in Frankfurt. “We are working towards a halfway split between 61:50 and 62:00 to give the possibility of a course record,” explained Philipp Kopp.
Samwel Mailu has produced outstanding form recently. He won the Vienna City Marathon in April, breaking the course record with his personal best of 2:05:08. He continued by taking the bronze medal at the World Half Marathon Championships in Riga on October 1, again setting a personal best of 59:19. “The field in Frankfurt is very strong but I think I can run 2:04,” he announced. The celebrations back home in Kenya for his bronze medal at the World Half Marathon Championships have been an added incentive: “The messages of congratulation were simply fantastic.” But that didn’t mean he lost his concentration on the job in hand, he has every intention of being first across the finish line in Frankfurt’s Festhalle on Sunday.
Guye Adola (2:03:46 pb), Brimin Misoi (2:06:11) and the Ethiopian duo of Mulugeta Uma (2:06:07) and Abdi Kebede (2:06:43) will have to be on their best form to prevent Samwel Mailu winning. Adola certainly sounded confident: “I think I can run a very good time. If the pacemakers and other runners run fast, I don’t see any reason why I cannot run 2:03. As for qualifying for the Olympics, there’s not a leading Ethiopian runner who doesn’t have that as their goal – but, ultimately, it depends on the national federation.” Should the 2021 Berlin Marathon winner run in the region of his personal best, he would have a chance of booking his place for the Olympics. Brimin Misoi is also ready for a fast marathon: “I have trained very well and want to beat my personal best.”
The Olympic Games are also the top target for Simon Boch. The leading German male runner has a best of 2:09:25, achieved in winning the Linz title in spring but he needs to run under 2:08:10. “I will either run a high 2:07 or end up on a bench around 35 k,“ said Simon Boch.
Women’s Race: Kenyans are favourites
The compact but high-quality women’s field shows every chance of producing a thrilling contest. “I hope that a big group can stay together for a long time and help each other,” said Philipp Kopp. Among the genuine favourites is Magdalyne Masai of Kenya, who showed plenty of confidence when assessing her prospects: “I have had the best preparation ever for a marathon in my career.” She had more than role model for inspiration in her family. Sister Linet won the 10,000m title at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009 and her brother Moses took the bronze at the same distance in the men’s event. “I had role models in my family and that gave me confidence. Above all, the performances of my sister because it’s not always easy for a woman in elite level sport. I said to myself, if she can do it, so can I.” Then there was the support from a ten-strong training group. Among them is Rosemary Wanjiru, who won this year’s Tokyo Marathon with an outstanding time of 2:16:28.
Magdalyne Masai, just as her compatriot and Frankfurt rival Visiline Jepkesho, has returned to marathon training and competition this year after maternity leave. “It was hard to come back after having a child,” said Jepkesho, whose youngest of two sons is now two years and three months. “I feel very good and am ready to run in the fastest group,” said the 33-year-old. Her personal best of 2:21:37, set six years ago, makes her the fastest woman in the field. Also in excellent form are two more Kenyans, Agnes Keino and Winfridah Moseti.
A similar form of co-operation may well happen between Miriam Dattke and Matea Parlov Kostro on Sunday. The former, the leading German runner in the field, achieved a surprise fourth place at the European Championships last year. She has a personal best of 2:26:50. Her target in Frankfurt is 2:24. This could secure her a place on the Olympic Marathon team. Parlov Kostro from Croatia, who won a silver medal at the same championships in Munich, improved her best to 2:25:45 with victory at the Hanover Marathon in spring. She is aiming to go through halfway on Sunday in 72:00. “I’m in better form than ever, my performances in training are stronger than before the European Championships,” said Matea Parlov Kostro, who has already achieved Olympic qualification.
Elite runners with personal bests