FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pat Butcher +44 7900 243460
FIREWORKS IN FRANKFURT
Frankfurt, October 28, 12.00gmt
The idea of running a marathon is infernal enough for most people, but to
run it indoors would be like a modern version of Dante’s Circles of Hell.
Yet indoor marathons were all the rage a century ago, after the
controversial finish to the Olympic marathon in London 1908. Dorando
Pietri came into the stadium five minutes ahead of his pursuers, but the
Italian was so exhausted that he collapsed half a dozen times and had to be
helped across the line, thus getting disqualified. Johnny Hayes of the USA
was declared the winner, but Dorando became famous. And they both made a
fortune from a series of subsequent races in New York, which had to be
indoors, in order to entice paying spectators.
Dorando won most of their duels, but after 400 laps of the track the pair
deserved every dollar they won. When they retired, indoor marathoning
effectively died with them. But it has a minor resurrection in Sunday’s
annual Frankfurt Marathon, 24th of the line, in that the last 100 metres of
the race takes the runners off the pavement and into the ‘Gut Stubb,’ the
city centre Festival Hall, where a fireworks display and brass band await
them, along with 10,000 rowdy spectators lubricated (since this is Germany)
by the inevitable steins of beer.
The noisy haven of the finish line will be all the more welcome this year,
since the unseasonable weather promises a torrid time for the 42.195
kilometre trek through the streets of Europe’s biggest 'expo' city.
Incidentally, the organisers have bowed to all-round pressure to rename
this race the Messe Frankfurt Marathon. However, after much cooler weather
in the last couple of years, when the race was known as the Eurocity
Marathon, the leading question is, can Boaz Kimayai (from Kenya, as
inevitably as the German beer) make it a hat trick of victories?
The projected 22C for Sunday morning will probably rule out a third
successive course record for Kimaiyo too – he ran 2.9.10 last year – but
with the runner still in transit Friday morning, it was left to his manager
Federico Rosa to say, "I would say Boaz is in the same shape as last year,
when he set the course record, but a new record depends on the weather."
Principal opposition comes from his compatriot, Philip Tarus, whose
personal best of 2.08.33 dates from his victory in the inaugural Rock ‘n’
Roll Marathon in 1999. Tarus has never heard of the Eagles’ hit, ‘Hotel
California,’ but he created something similar; following his win there, he
built a hotel back in Kenya, and called it the Hotel San Diego!
One European who may challenge for victory is Leonid Shevetsov, who
finished second here two years ago, and distinguished himself with 13th at
the Olympic Games in Athens. The Russian can obviously handle the heat, and
said, "If the pacing is smooth, I hope to have a chance to win. Last year,
the pacing was so erratic, I think Kimaiyo did well to survive and set the
If Marleen Renders is anywhere near optimum form after two operations on
her right hamstring, it is hard to see anyone getting near her in the
women’s race. The Belgian has the unusual record of having bettered her
time in each of her successive marathons over the last ten years. She made
her debut at home in Antwerp, with a victory in 2.28.59 in 1995; then
following a third in Berlin '96, a second in Rotterdam '97 and a fourth in
London '98, she has won Berlin twice and Paris twice, the latter in 2.23.05
in 2002. Then the hamstring problems began to kick in, but she said on
Friday, "Everything seems fine now. I’ve spent two good months training in
Switzerland, and the only worry I have is that the weather may be a little
Germany is the country where the second wave of the mass-running took
really took hold at the turn of the century, and Frankfurt is benefiting
too: there will be over 17,000 competitors in the various races on Sunday
morning, with a projected record 11,000 in the full marathon.