Christoph Kopp lives in Berlin but since the end of last week the Elite Race Coordinator for the BMW Frankfurt Marathon has been regularly checking the weather forecast for the city beside the River Main.
That’s where an imposing field will line up for the race’s 32nd edition on Sunday. A year ago the thermometer dropped to freezing point on race day morning and the organisers took the precaution of having salt scattered around the bends to prevent runners slipping on any potentially icy surface. Judging by the current meteorological predictions, Christoph Kopp and Race Director Jo Schindler will not need salt on Sunday – that is for sure. The elite field is loaded with talent, showing 21 runners with personal bests of sub 2:10 and five have broken 2:05:30. The BMW Frankfurt Marathon is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race and around 15,000 runners are expected to take part.
Since 2003 the men’s course record has been broken on eight occasions. The current record is 2:03:42, set by Wilson Kipsang two years ago, and makes Frankfurt the second fastest marathon behind Berlin. Given good weather conditions, another fast race is highly likely. However, Elite Race Coordinator Christoph Kopp is not making an attack on the course record the priority. This is currently only 19 seconds slower than Wilson Kipsang’s world record (2:03:23).
“It is our aim to get a big group of runners to the 30 k mark. If we get there with a compact leading group we will be in a very good position to achieve very fast times,” said Christoph Kopp, who is hoping for a winning time of under 2:05.
The Ethiopian duo of Dino Sefir (2:04:50), Feyisa Lilesa (2:04:52) and the Kenyan trio of Vincent Kiprutu (2:05:13), Levy Matebo Omari (2:05:16) and Albert Matebor (2:05:25) are the ones who have PBs of sub 2:05:30. “But I also rate Kenyans Eric Ndiema and Gilbert Kirwa highly. I saw Kirwa looking very good in training when I was in Iten recently,” said Christoph Kopp. Ndiema has a PB of 2:06:07 while Kirwa won in Frankfurt with 2:06:14 in 2009. Kopp also thinks that Kenyans Moses Masai (2:11:00) and debutant Edwin Kipyego, who is the winner of the Den Haag Half Marathon from this year, could do very well.
“When I took over as Race Director in Frankfurt and then introduced Christoph Kopp a year later in 2003 the goal was to deliver high-class races and achieve top results,” said Jo Schindler. “We improved in all aspects and managed to provide very good conditions for both elite and fun runners.” Schindler said that a sub 2:05 time would be a superb result on Sunday. “We are the second fastest marathon and we want to confirm this position in the future.”
Kopp has a habit of giving bib number 7, traditionally considered as a “lucky number”, to an athlete he expects to produce an outstanding performance - and they usually do. While Gilbert Kirwa will wear this number on Sunday, the woman starting with F7 is Gelete Burka. The Ethiopian debutant with an outstanding career on the track and cross country behind her is tipped to make a strong impression. “I don’t know her well enough to make a prediction, but I’ve heard she is in good form,” said Christoph Kopp, who gave the F7 bib to Meselech Melkamu a year ago. The Ethiopian duly won the race with a course record of 2:21:01 and returns to Frankfurt as defending champion. Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia/2:21:19), Eunice Jepkirui (Kenya/2:21:41), Mamitu Daska (Ethiopia/2:21:59) and Caroline Kilel (Kenya/2:22:36) are the other favourites.
“The men’s race is very open, but this one is as well. It would be great if we could see a women’s course record for the fourth time in a row,” said Christoph Kopp. Jo Schindler added: “It would be a dream to get a sub 2:20 time for the first time in Frankfurt. And I hope that we will see two thrilling races on Sunday.”
For the first time, the BMW Frankfurt Marathon will be shown live by a number of international TV stations. The following stations will broadcast the race live: Super Sport South Africa, Fox International / ESPN Star, Solar Sports Philippines, Starhub Singapore, OSNetwork, Zuku TV, The Sports Channel Israel, EBU, Slovak Sport Slovakia, Sky Mexico, Band Sports Brazil, Direct TV Latin America, Fox Sports Australia, Dolce Sport Romania, NTV Turkey, Canal+ France. For other territories the live stream will be accessible through the website of the race: www.bmw-frankfurt-marathon.com
The race begins at 10.30 am local time (clocks go back one hour during the night before the race).