FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maturity Matters for Mikitenko and Dita
LONDON, April 23, 2009 -- Like fine wines, Irina Mikitenko and Constantina
Dita have matured to the highest quality vintage.
Mikitenko returns to defend her Flora London Marathon title on Sunday after
becoming the fourth fastest woman ever with 2:19:19 in Berlin last
September and is one of the hot contenders for the world title in the same
city this August. Like many a successful marathoner, she has had a solid
but not spectacular track career.
"I know it's going to be a tough race but I'm ready," says the German
record holder for the marathon. "When I go to the start line of any race,
it doesn't matter where it is or what the distance, I want to win. I don't
think about second or third,."
Dita gave Romania its first Olympic marathon gold in Beijing, her
front-running tactics at last bearing fruit in a championship race at the
distance. The achievement deservedly earned her celebrity status, both in
her home country and in her second home of Boulder, Colorado. Now 39, Dita
is living proof that experience counts, especially in the marathon.
"Age is not important," says the Olympic champion. "If you feel good, you
can go on for many years. But what I do now is to take more time in
recovery, that is important when you are older."
Mikitenko has remained faithful to the recipe which produced an unbeaten
record in 2008. Her family set-up at Freigericht near Frankfurt is as
stable as ever, husband Alexander, a 13:39 man for 5,000 m in 1994, is the
coach. Her parents live close at hand and help look after 14-year-old son,
Alexander, and four-year-old daughter, Vanessa. Mikitenko goes into
Sunday's race buoyed up by running 31:22 for victory at the Paderborn 10km
on Easter Sunday (April 13).
Although she has increased her weekly training volume by 10 per cent to
around 220km, extending her longest runs to 35km, the approach has remained
largely the same. March was spent at altitude in Kyrgyrzstan where
Mikitenko trains at between 1600 and 1700 metres, comparable with St.
Moritz. For her, the higher altitudes on offer in Kenya or USA are
counter-productive, requiring longer recovery time when back at sea level.
It's not only her experience but familiarity with conditions in London that
will be important for the 2008 champion, who says her form is very much on
a par with 12 months ago:
"It's going to be a big help that I know what to expect in London. Last
year everything was new but now I know what's coming, whether it is the
mile markers or the position of the drink stations."
This will be Dita's eighth appearance in London and her best performance so
far has been second place in 2:22:50 in 2005. The presence of all three
Olympic medallists in the women's marathon might well prove the inspiration
she needs to improve on her personal best of 2:21:30, set when finishing
runner-up in Chicago the same year:
"London is one of the best races because they always have such strong
Mikitenko doesn't need reminding that she will turn 37 on August 23, the
day of the women's World Championship marathon in Berlin. Retaining her
Flora London title would be much more than a stepping stone towards a
"If I produce my best in London, it would be a big psychological boost
before Berlin in August. But both are going to be equally demanding races,
every marathon is like that."