23 SEP 2010 General News

‘Mocki’, bored no longer, sets out to emulate Pippig in Berlin

Morimoto, Bezunesh and Mockenhaupt at the real_Berlin Marathon press conference, Thu 23 Sep (Victah Sailer)Morimoto, Bezunesh and Mockenhaupt at the real_Berlin Marathon press conference, Thu 23 Sep (Victah Sailer) © Copyright

Berlin, GermanyAs a nineyearold, Sabrina Mockenhaupt recalls watching the first Berlin Marathon to be run though the reunified city, shortly after the Wall came down, in 1990. But, like with her parents going out running in all weathers, she didn't quite get it.
 
"I watched Uta Pippig win that first race through the former East and West of Berlin, but really it was boring watching. I admired the people running, but I didn't understand my parents going out in bad weather."
 
She finally go the message aged 16, and started running in secondary school, and 20 years after that first visit to what is now the German capital, Mocki, as she's known to the national media sets out to emulate Pippig in the real_Berlin Marathon on Sunday morning (26) - IAAF Gold Label Road Race - and maybe even better dad's best of 2:24:59, set in Hamburg (she thinks), back when she was the uncomprehending daughter.
 
Fred Mockenhaupt will be following on his bike on Sunday - "I doubt he could do four hours for the marathon now," she says - while mother, Hildegard, "Will probably do about 20k herself, running point to point on the course. She could probably still do 3:30."
 
With her own best of 2:26:22, she and Fred hold the father-daughter unofficial world best, and not to be outdone, Hildegard's 2:40:41, in Bremen in 1991, gives them the mother-daughter best distinction too.
 
To complete the family affair, her twin Markus got serious about running even later than she did. "He can run about 33 minutes for 10k, and I'm coaching him, so that he can pace me in future." She'll soon get an angle on that, since Markus is running his debut marathon in Frankfurt in a month's time.
 
Mocki's best came in winning Frankfurt two years ago, and she's twice won on the difficult course in Cologne, where she is a member of the local club, although she still lives and trains in her birthplace of Siegen, some 100k south-east.
 
Up to now, she's combined track with marathons, with a best 10,000 metres of 31:14.21 for 13th at the Beijing Olympics, "but I think I'll be concentrating on the road from now on."
 
An argument over failure to share the pace in a track race with naturalised German Irina Mikitenko a couple of years ago got inflated by the media into a Miki/Mocki mutual hate campaign, but with Miki's sub-2:20 and winning the Marathon Majors' jackpot last year, Mocki has conceded that at the moment she isn't really a contender. The pair have duly made up, with Mocki saying, "To achieve what Irina has done is really great, and she has given me some good advice." Miki duly reciprocated with, "I think Sabrina has got a great talent, but you need more to succeed at the marathon. If she can apply herself, she can run much faster."
 
With six World records here in the last dozen years, the most recent being Haile Geb's 2:03:59 two years ago, Mocki acknowledges that, if she's going to make a great leap forward, it's going to be here.
 
And coming back here involves some unfinished business. She's loath to spell it out, but she obviously feels she was press-ganged by the national federation into running the World champs (on a different course) here in Berlin last year - she finished 17th in 2:30:07.
 
"Everyone says the Berlin course is fast, and I've been reluctant to come in the past, because of all the pressure if you don't do well. But I think I'm ready now, I'll like to go under 2:25."
 
She may need to go substantially under that time in order to win, given that principal opponents, Bezunesh Bekele and Aberu Kebede of Ethiopia and Tomo Morimoto of Japan have run 2:23:09, 2:24:26 and 2:24:33 respectively.
 
Bezunesh and Morimoto both joined Mocki at this morning press conference in Berlin, duly repeating the mantra, "I want to run a personal best".
 
They'd be well-advised to get away from Mocki, and out of sight as soon as possible. As a member of the German Army sports team, she attended her final duties six months ago. After two months fatigues in the forests around Hannover, she was awarded the gold star - for sharp-shooting!

Pat Butcher for the IAAF