The organisers of the Haspa Marathon Hamburg, whose 27th running take place on April 29, are looking forward to an upgrade of their race, in keeping with the status of the city of Hamburg. Many people outside Germany may not realise that Hamburg is the country’s second city, and is the sixth largest in Europe. Its fame stretches from being one of the founding cities of the Hanseatic League (a precursor to the European Union), the medieval trading organisation based around the Baltic and north-sea ports and inland cities; to being the location where the Beatles rose to international fame in the 1960s.
With 13 men under 2hrs 10min (two under 2.06) enlisted for the race on Sunday, April 29, the revamped organising committee are hoping, if not expecting two course records, in order to underline their case to be considered one of the world’s best marathons.
Course records belong to four-time winner, Spaniard Julio Rey, who ran 2.06.52 six years ago, and Irina Timofeyeva of Russia, who clocked 2.24.14 in 2008. Leading contenders to attack those marks are Dadi Yami of Ethiopia, who ran 2.05.41 in Dubai in January, and his colleague Shami Dawit who finished just one second behind him. There are three more sub-2.07 men, Kenyans Evans Cheruiyot (2.06.25) and Paul Biwott (2.06.54), and Ethiopian Chele Dechase (2.06.33), plus former world 10,000 metres champion, Charles Kamathi of Kenya, whose marathon best is 2.07.33.
The women’s field this year doesn’t quite have the same depth, but organisers are hoping that proven winner Robe Guta of Ethiopia (first in Seoul, twice, and in Hamburg 2006) can improve on her best of 2.24.35.
In a statement from their launch press conference this morning, Wednesday, Jos Hermens, whose Global Sports company has been enlisted by organisers to upgrade the event, said, "After some difficult years Hamburg Marathon now is back to where it belongs. It will again challenge to belong among the top 10 best marathons worldwide, as it has done in the past.
“Having said that, the aim this year is to break both course records. That ambition is underlined by having two sub-2.06 men in the field, both in this year’s top ten. We also want to accommodate the top German runners as much as possible, both Falk Cierpinski and Martin Beckmann, who will try to run the Olympic Games qualifier (2.12).
“The 2012 Haspa Marathon Hamburg will be an important edition for the organization to show that they are back running a quality marathon with some one million spectators along the course; and about 14.000 runners, with over 4000 more in relays”.