Sifan Hassan is the headline act at the Generali Berlin Half Marathon on Sunday (7) and there could be a world record on the cards as well.
Seven months after Eliud Kipchoge smashed the world marathon record in Berlin, Hassan has similar aspirations albeit over half the distance in the German capital in two days’ time. “I will try to attack the world record. I will see how it goes on Sunday,” said Hassan at the pre-event press conference, referring to Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei’s time of 64:51 which was set in the Valencia Half Marathon in October 2017.
Hassan already holds the European record with a sensational time of 65:15 which was set in the Copenhagen Half Marathon last September. That time came as a surprise to everyone - including Hassan herself - whose foremost focus last summer was the track season but the Dutchwoman is confident she can further improve that time with a more conscientious build-up.
“However I did not really prepare properly for that race [in Copenhagen], since I had only two weeks of half marathon training. This time it is different. I decided not to compete at the World Cross Country Championships and focus on this race instead,” she said.
Hassan faces a line-up including Kenya’s Veronica Nyaruai and leading German runners Anna Hahner and Fabienne Amrhein. “It is not about time on Sunday,” said Hahner, who is returning from injury. “I am just happy to be back healthy.”
With reigning champion Eric Kiptanui a late withdrawal due to injury, the fastest entrant in the men’s race is Kenya’s Wilfred Kimitei who has a recently set lifetime best of 59:40. There will also be keen interest in the fortunes of Richard Ringer who makes his debut at the distance on Sunday.
“I want to run a good pace. Whether this will lead to a 61, 62 or 63-minute finish remains to be seen,” said Ringer, who won the European 10,000m Cup title in London last May.
A record 35,551 runners have entered for this year’s race, making it the biggest race of its kind in German speaking territories. Adding in other events staged in conjunction to the half marathon, the total entry figure is 37,087. The race will start and finish near the iconic Brandenburg Gate.