Heinig puts down a marker for 2018

Heinig puts down a marker for 2018
European Athletics

Germany’s Katharina Heinig produced a stunning performance to finish fifth in the Berlin Marathon with 2:28:34 on Sunday.

Never in the history of the European Athletics Championships has the marathon been won by a runner from the host nation.

But as an audition for creating that piece of history, Germany’s Katharina Heinig finds herself in a pretty good place this morning.

Twenty-two years after her mother Katrin Dorre-Heinig won the Berlin Marathon, Kathrina, 27, was fifth in the race on Sunday in 2:28:34 - breaking her personal best by more than five minutes.

It is now officially 674 days until the German capital stages the next European Athletics Championships in August 2018, and for Heinig, the event will surely come into greater focus after her stunning performance in the city.

She was left delighted by her result, having started the race with a personal best of 2:33:56, before flying into fifth place on this year’s European Athletics rankings. "I wanted to run under 2:30," said Heinig, having achieved that breakthrough in style.

In a Berlin Marathon where Ethiopia landed a cleansweep - Aberu Kebede (2:20:45) beating team-mates Birhane Dibaba (2:23:58) and Ruti Aga (2:24:41) - Heinig will take so much confidence from this display in a race where 41,283 runners from 122 countries entered.

A previous winner of the Cologne Marathon, Heinig has battled back after injury and this result could be such a turning point for her if she carries on improving this way.

She had a halfway mark of 1:14:36 and was then timed at 1:45:55 at 30km before progressing to her personal best.

German marathon running finds itself in a good position.

In the European Athletics lists led by Belarusian Volha Mazuronak (2:23:54), Germany’s Anja Scherk (2:27:50) is in third from her third place in Hamburg in April.

In the nine times the women’s marathon has been run at the European Athletics Championships, the only occasion a home nation has made the podium was in Munich 2002 when Germany took silver and bronze, with Luminita Zaituc and Sonja Oberem respectively, as Italy’s Maria Gudia won gold.

And there is no doubt marathon success runs in the Dorre-Heining family as Katharina’s mum, who won in Berlin 1994 in 2:25:15, was the Olympic bronze medallist in 1988 and world bronze medallist in 1991 and also finished fifth in the Games in Barcelona 1992 and fourth in Atlanta 1996.

Across Europe in Prague on Sunday, Jiri Homolac and Simona Vrzalova made their own piece of sporting history.

The pair were crowned Czech champions as the 120th staging of the Bechovice-Prague 10km saw it become Europe’s longest consecutive running road race.

Homolac won the men’s event in 30:26 and Vrzalova took the women’s crown in 34:20.