Ethiopians Tola and Lema the favourites
In probably fine weather conditions the men’s leading group is expected to go through half way in 63:50 minutes. This pace would be well inside the present course record, which was set by Iaroslav Musinschi (Moldova) two years ago with 2:08:32. Seboka Diriba Tola will be the favourite since he improved to 2:06:17 in Dubai in January. With this personal best he is the fastest runner ever entered into the METRO GROUP Marathon Duesseldorf.
But regarding the depth of the men’s elite field this is also unique for this race. Besides Tola there are five more runners who have been faster than 2:09: Joseph Ngeny (2:08:10), Evans Ruto (both Kenya/2:08:36), Yuki Kawauchi (Japan/2:08:37), Duncan Koech (2:08:38) and Abraham Chelanga (both Kenya/2:08:43). Additionally the defending champion Nahashon Kimaiyo will also return. The Kenyan, who has a PB of 2:10:36, clocked 2:10:53 in very warm weather conditions last year.
“On Sunday I want to show in Duesseldorf that I can compete with the Africans,” said Yuki Kawauchi during a press conference on Friday. “My goal is to run at least 2:10 here. If they run 63:50 minutes for half way, this will be fine for me. I have already run a 63:30 split in Tokyo before.” For Yuki Kawauchi this will be the first time he competes in Europe. He is aware that there is quite a big Japanese community in Duesseldorf. “I want to show them something on Sunday,” he said.
In the women’s race organisers hope that the eight year-old course record set by Luminita Zaituc (Germany/2:26:44) will finally be broken. Kebebush Haile Lema is the one who is supposed to be able to go faster than Zaituc in 2004. The 26 year-old Ethiopian enters the event with a personal best of 2:24:09. Fellow-Ethiopians Gishu Mindaye (2:28:30), Melkam Gisaw (2:29:12) and Fantu Eticha Jimma (2:30:25) could do well as well. Kenya’s Agnes Jeruto plans to run a very fast debut marathon. While her half marathon best of 72:03 does not suggest something spectacular she targets a 2:25 time.
Two German runners hope to beat the national qualifying time for the Olympics in Duesseldorf: Jan Fitschen, the 10,000 m European Champion from 2006, will have to improve from 2:15:40 to 2:12:00 to book a place in London, while Anna Hahner will have to reach 2:30:00 in her debut marathon. Unfortunately André Pollmächer and Melanie Kraus had both had to cancel their starts due to injuries.