Melanie Kraus of Germany during the 2007 World Champs women's marathon (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Yator and Kraus battle the heat to take the Düsseldorf Marathon - German news round-up

Bellor Yator and Melanie Kraus battled hot weather conditions with temperatures well over 20° Celsius when they won the Düsseldorf Marathon, Germany on Sunday 4 May.

With this win Melanie Kraus will have secured Olympic selection. The 33-year-old meanwhile has built a series of fine marathon performances. After finishing 20th in the World Championships’ marathon in Osaka she had won the Frankfurt Marathon with 2:28:56 and now has taken the Düsseldorf title.

Meanwhile Kenya’s Bellor Yator won the men’s race for the second year in a row, clocking 2:11:15. Adding all events more than 10,000 runners took part while around 400,000 spectators lined the streets.

Organisers had hoped for another sub 2:10 time this year. In 2007 Bellor Yator had improved the course record to 2:09:47. But the very warm weather conditions made that impossible in Düsseldorf on Sunday. A large leading group of about 15 runners passed the half way mark in 65:23, which was almost a minute slower than planned. But the favourites did not respond to the pace set by the pacemakers. Additionally one of the favourites, Wilson Kigen (Kenya), dropped out at 28k due to muscle problems.

Yator managed to open a gap at 30k but Ethiopians Zakaria Abdulhak  and Riyadh Almustafa, who later finished second and third with 2:11:37 and 2:11:41, closed him down again. Then the race got slower because it turned tactical for some kilometres with Yator finally managing to leave the Ethiopians behind at 40km.

In the women’s race Germany’s Luminita Zaituc will have lost her Olympic chances after dropping out of the race at 20km. The three-time winner of the Düsseldorf Marathon (2005 to 2007) never found her rhythm.

After the first half a duel developed between Melanie Kraus and Leah Malot developed. But running her marathon debut the Kenyan ran into big problems about two kilometres from the finish. Finally she could only jog into the finish, placing seventh in 2:55:51. Tsige Worku (Ethiopia/2:38:10) and Kiraz Ummü (Turkey/2:38:25) were second and third.

Hahn breaks Olympic qualifying time in Mainz

On a busy road race weekend in Germany the national marathon championships were held in Mainz, just about 250 kilometres south of Düsseldorf. Here Susanne Hahn clocked her first sub 2:30 time and broke the Olympic qualifying standard. The 30-year-old won the race and the title with 2:29:35 after covering the first half in 1:15:05.  Hahn was all on her own, no other woman finished inside 2:40. Besides Irina Mikitenko and Melanie Kraus, Hahn should have qualified for Beijing.

As in the women’s race there was a new course record in the men’s event as well – but no German winner. Ukraine’s Andriy Naumov clocked 2:11:10 to win from his fellow countryman Ivan Babaryka (2:14:55). Martin Beckmann, who had dropped out of the Hamburg Marathon a week earlier because of stomach pains, was third with 2:18:30. He won the German title.

Mikitenko shows fine form in 10,000m champs

Meanwhile Irina Mikitenko ran her first race after her sensational win at the Flora London Marathon. 20 days after London she dominated the German 10,000 m championships in Menden. Running all on her own right from the start Mikitenko lapped all the others runners and finished in 31:57.71 minutes.

“I will run the marathon in Beijing. So I had no ambitions of going for the qualifying time in this race,” Irina Mikitenko said. She missed this time by less than 18 seconds but it looked as if she would have been well capable of achieving that in a serious race.

Simret Restle was second with 33:30.31 while in the men’s race Martin Hallmann won the title although he finished only second. Hallmann clocked 29:24.13 and was beaten by Zelalem Martel (29:19.28). But Martel is still a junior and had entered the junior’s race. But both events were then started together to get a bigger field.

Jörg Wenig for the IAAF