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PRESS RELEASE FROM SEPTEMBER 24, 2021

Kenenisa Bekele at the #restartrunning at BMW BERLIN-MARATHON

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  • Strong field of top runners
  • Kenenisa Bekele in good shape
  • Finally #restartrunning in Berlin
  • Racing wheelchair and handbiker

Lights, action! Camera team jostling camera team, microphones clustered together – such a busy scene was the picture presented at today’s press conference hosted by SCC EVENTS, organisers of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON to introduce elite runners, wheelchair competitors and handbikers. The “Friday Presser” always drew a big crowd during race week. Given that the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON returns as the biggest marathon worldwide since the start of the pandemic, media interest is greater than ever. After months of self-denial #restartrunning is at last underway in the capital.

The BMW BERLIN MARATHON with charisma
Jürgen Lock is in role of chief executive of SCC EVENTS, hosts of the press conference, straightaway set out what was the significance of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON this year: “We  have come a long way, months ago we accepted the challenge of organising a BMW BERLIN-MARATHON which would be safe
for everyone involved. The team have done brilliantly. We want those taking part to be laughing and smiling again, that’s what counts for us.”

After months of deprivation and social distance, SCC EVENTS has set down a milestone with the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. Human beings regain trust and confidence through sport, inhibitions are broken down. Basic values such as open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance at last are revived. On the back to normality it is these emotions which society needs at this time. Lock emphasised that these steps had not come easily: “The situation around the pandemic including furlough working put barriers in the way of SCC EVENTS which our in-
house team and in dialogue with specialists outside were able to overcome.

This is how SCC EVENTS developed a sophisticated hygiene concept which ultimately forms the basis for the event and guarantees that the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON will take place in safety. “A very good, mutually responsible partnership with the city, especially the department for Interior Affairs and Sport, made possible that we could have a race this weekend,” explained
Jürgen Lock and thanked all partners and other authorities in Berlin.

The Berlin hygiene concept created by SCC EVENTS takes as its base the “Three Gs” (“Drei Gs”). Everyone taking part has either has to have been inoculated, recovered or had a negative PCR test and produce the relevant documents as
proof. Spectators along the course are requested to maintain social distance and wear a mask covering nose and mouth. The RUN FOR JOY – Campaign underlines the high bar of emotions for the first race in the AWMM series since the pandemic began. It offers participants and the entire community a wide range of choices to experience the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON in all its aspects, to be a part of it and enjoy it.

It’s not only the press with around 500 accredited journalists but also mass and elite sports people whose interest has been aroused by the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. Around 25,000 participants are expected on race (approx. 3,000 inline skaters on Saturday) including some absolute top performers, drawn
by the idea that: “At last we can all take part in a race. But in safety! The weather forecast for Sunday is 13 degrees Centigrade at the start and barely a breath of wind – ideal conditions.

Wheelchair and handbiker competitors
When it came to the elite wheelchair and handbiker competitors at the press conference, there was no doubting their calibre and recent achievements. Manuela Schär of Switzerland, a silver medallist in the women’s marathon at the
Paralympics in Tokyo, was looking forward to another tough competition: “I’m curious to see how my body feels after the Games but I’ve been training well. I know that Berlin is always a fast course.” The Swiss star also noted that Berlin marks the start of the new season for the Abbott World Marathon Majors
series, which she won in 2017-18 and again the following season. Her fellow Swiss Marcel Hug, known throughout the sport as “The Silver Bullet”, went one better than Schär at the Paralympics, winning the men’s marathon. He knows it will be tough on Sunday: “The field is always strong and I know the man next to me (American Daniel Romanchuk, who took the bronze medal in the marathon in Tokyo) will be among the tough challengers. Romanchuk, like Hug and many of the wheelchair elite, is beginning a busy racing schedule which takes in the London Marathon a week after Berlin. Romanchuk, who did his first marathon aged 14, commented: “It’s going to be an interesting experience!”

Vico Merklein is a big name among the handbikers, having won the Berlin title six times and is the current course record holder. He reflected on mixed fortunes at the recent Paralympics, having to drop out of the road race when rain caused him technical problems. He welcomed the news that a legend of wheelchair sport, Heinz Frei, was switching to his own domain of handbiking, adding that the Swiss had the potential to excel in this branch as well. There was plenty of interest in a rising star among the wheelchair competitors: the 17-year-old Merle Menje from Germany. She will make her debut at the distance in Berlin,
having competing on the track in the Paralympics: “It’s been my ambition to do a marathon ever since I was little girl, I can hardly wait to get on the start line. I am really looking forward to it and want to enjoy my first marathon.”

Kenenisa Bekele in good shape

Naturally we are delighted that we have been able to recruit a very strong field with Kenenisa Bekele at the top,”said the race director Mark Milde. Guye Adola and Olika Adugna are two compatriots of Kenenisa Bekele who could also produce impressive results. Adola made what was then the fastest marathon debut ever when he ran 2:03:36 in Berlin in 2017. “I want to be among the leading group on Sunday,” announced Adola. His fellow Ethiopian Olika Adugna himself made an excellent marathon debut in Dubai in 2020 with victory in 2:06:15. Both are men to watch on Sunday. Eleven world records have been set at the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON so far, more than at any other marathon. Could Kenenisa Bekele make it a round dozen on Sunday? “I have prepared well, but the pandemic hasn’t made it easy in the last two years,” said Bekele. Asked about the difference with his 2019 race in Berlin where he went so close to the world record, the man with three Olympic long distance gold medals to his credit reflected: “At the time it wasn’t clear whether I could run that fast. This time I have more confidence and will do my best.” “Sunday may not be my last chance of the world record, I want to run a couple of years more,” added the 39-year-old, who won the 2016 Berlin title in 2:03:03, only six seconds outside the then world record. The next year he had to drop out. This Sunday clearly offers Kenenisa Bekele the best chance of breaking the world record. It’s a view shared by his Dutch manager Jos Hermens: “Kenenisa has energy and the ability to be right up front at over 40." 

Philipp Pflieger aims for personal best
Philipp Pflieger has one thing in common with Kenenisa Bekele. The only German top runner among the elite men’s field will also be running his fourth BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. He ran what was his personal best here in 2015 with 2:12:50, qualifying for the Olympic Games. He dropped out of the race in 2017 and 2019. “My aim is run under 2:12 and perhaps even just under 2:11,” said Pflieger, who enters the race with a PB of 2:12:15.


Further media informations
The accreditation entitles you to enter certain areas of the event grounds within the framework of your reporting and research at the MARATHON EXPO and the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. Appropriately credentialed media is allowed to attend all press conferences and use the media center's facilities during operating hours in the Hotel InterContinental Berlin (Budapester Straße 2, 10787 Berlin). We provide a comfortable, full-service indoor location including workspace, wifi and power stations. It is fully staffed by SCC EVENTS media representatives. Race-Day services include large-format direct feeds of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON broadcast, real-time race updates, split and finish times printouts and the post-race press conference. This year special hygiene conditions apply.