World-class fields will go for course records and target Olympic qualification in Sunday’s Haspa Marathon Hamburg. Kenya’s defending champion and course record holder Bernard Koech, who tied his personal best with 2:04:09 a year ago, is back while Gotytom Gebreslase, the World Champion from 2022, is the favourite in the women’s race. The Ethiopian, who has a PB of 2:18:18, wants to secure the third spot for the Paris Olympic race in Hamburg. Fellow Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw holds Hamburg’s course record of 2:17:23. Late entry Nienke Brinkman will also try to qualify for Paris. The Dutch runner is the bronze medallist from the European Championships in Munich in 2022.

The men’s race

Brimin Misoi and Philemon Kiplimo are tipped to be among the strongest challengers for defending champion Koech. Both have done very well on German roads in the past. Misoi has won the Frankfurt Marathon twice in a row. When he defended his title last autumn the Kenyan improved to 2:04:53 despite windy and rainy conditions. He now intends to run faster in Hamburg. “I ran the Paris Marathon at the beginning of April. But because of breathing problems I dropped out and then decided to go for Hamburg,“ said Misoi. It was in Berlin last year, where Philemon Kiplimo improved to 2:04:56 and finished eighth in a very competitive race. “German roads are good for me, so I am looking forward to Sunday. I want to run with the leading group and improve my time,“ said Kiplimo, who has a superb half marathon PB of 58:11.  

Irine Cheptai, Winfridah Moseti, Gotytom Gebreslase, Brimin Misoi, Bernard Koech and Philemon Kiplimo (from left to right), Photo Credit: MHV

“We are planning a pace in the region of the course record, may be slightly faster. Additionally, there will be a really big group of probably 25 athletes who will target the 2:08:10 Olympic qualifying time“, said Hamburg’s Elite Race Coordinator Jurrie van der Velden of Jos Hermens’ Global Management. “We are not quite sure yet, but the women’s leading group might run a pace somewhere between 2:16 and 2:18. There is a group as well that targets Olympic qualification, running sub 2:26:50 pace.“

The women’s race

“It is my goal to qualify for the Olympics on Sunday,“ said Gotytom Gebreslase, who surprisingly won her debut marathon in Berlin in 2021, then went on to become World Champion in the following year and took the silver medal at last year’s global championships in Budapest. Jurrie van der Velden explained that the Ethiopian federation usually selects the two fastest runners during the qualifying window and then picks the athlete who performed best at major championships as long as that athlete confirms good form. When Gebreselase ran the Nagoya Marathon in March she did not finish. “I got stomach problems during the race and dropped out after 35k. Then I trained well and decided to run in Hamburg. I am in good form now and want to run sub 2:18 here. Perhaps I can attack the course record. I would think such a performance should be enough to get selected,“ said Gotytom Gebreslase. 

Nienke Brinkman joined Hamburg’s elite field at short notice. The European bronze medallist from 2022 has still not achieved the qualifying time for the Olympics. She ran her PB of 2:22:51 in 2022, but that was outside the qualifying period. A year ago Brinkman clocked a fine 2:24:58 in Boston, but this course is not record eligible and results do not count as qualifying times. However it is a far easier task for Brinkman to achieve qualification in Hamburg than for Gebreslase. Reaching the qualifying standard of 2:26:50 should be enough for the former Durch record holder.

A debutant could well be in the mix for at least a place on the podium: Irine Cheptai is the World Cross Country Champion from 2017. “I started preparing for my marathon debut in January and training went very well. I think I will go with the second group on Sunday,“ said the Kenyan who has already run a very fast and promising half-marathon time of 64:53. 

Among a number of German runners, Katharina Steinruck is probably the one who could produce the national highlight in Hamburg. She improved to 2:24:56 this winter and now hopes to break the family record: It was exactly 25 years ago when Katrin Dörre-Heinig, the bronze medallist of the 1988 Olympic marathon in Seoul, won the Hamburg Marathon with 2:24:35. For many years this remained the German marathon record. “It is my aim to break my Mum’s record and it would be great if I could do it in Hamburg,“ said Steinruck.

Germany’s biggest race

Organizers of Germany’s biggest and fastest spring marathon have registered a record total of 38,210 runners. Among them are 15,000 athletes who will compete in the classic event. “If all goes well on Sunday and the pacemakers run a bit more even and slightly faster we could see similar results to last year. I am curious to see if Gotytom Gebreslase manages to qualify for Paris and if she is able to break the course record. But even a sub 2:20 time is something special since we only have one so far,“ said chief organizer Frank Thaleiser, who introduced an additional bonus of 20,000 Euros for the course records. All runners – men and women – who finish inside the course records share this amount. If there were one man and three women who clock faster times than the previous records they would each receive 5,000 Euros. “This way we want to encourage the runners in a leading group to go for a fast time after the last pacemaker has dropped out,“ explained Frank Thaleiser.

Elite Runners with Personal Bests

MEN:

Getaneh Molla ETH 2:03:34

Bernard Koech KEN 2:04:09

Roland Korir KEN 2:04:22

Dickson Chumba KEN 2:04:32

Barselius Kipyego KEN 2:04:48

Brimin Misoi KEN 2:04:53

Philemon Kiplimo KEN 2:04:56

Oqbe Ruesom ERI 2:05:51

Haymanot Alew ETH 2:05:57

Tsedat Ayana ETH 2:06:18

Geoffrey Kirui KEN 2:06:27

Olivier Irabaruta BDI 2:07:13

Jake Robertson NZL 2:08:26

Amaury Paquet BEL 2:08:44

Martin Musau UGA 2:08:45

Benjamin Preisner CAN 2:08:58

Ebba Tulu Chala SWE 2:09:06

Therence Bizosa BDI 2:09:18

Maxim Raileanu MDA 2:09:22

Jorge Castelblanco PAN 2:09:24

Joaquim Arbe ARG 2:09:36

Yohannes Chiappinelli ITA 2:09:46

Paul Tanui KEN 2:09:57

Abraham Cheroben KEN Debüt

WOMEN:

Gotytom Gebreslase ETH 2:18:18

Winfridah Moseti KEN 2:20:55

Sharon Chelimo KEN 2:22:07

Kidsan Alema ETH 2:22:28

Nienke Brinkman NED 2:22:51

Natasha Wodak CAN 2:23:12

Margaret Wangari KEN 2:23:52

Jessica Augusto POR 2:24:25

Ayantu Kumela ETH 2:24:29

Katharina Steinruck GER 2:24:56

Fadouwa Ledhem FRA 2:25:50

Ellie Pashley AUS 2:26:21

Sara Ribeiro POR 2:26:39

Rabea Schöneborn GER 2:27:03

Daiana Ocampo ARG 2:27:16

Kristina Hendel GER 2:27:29

Isabel Oropeza Vazque MEX 2:27:57

Irine Cheptai KEN Debut

Aminet Ahmed ETH Debüt

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