Germany’s Arne Gabius hopes to come home in front of around 15,000 runners in the Frankfurt Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, and get a rare win on Sunday (25) for a European male marathoner at a top level race over the classic distance.
“It should develop into a great race and I’m going to grab my chance,” said the 34-year-old Gabius, whose aim is to break the German marathon record and cross the finish line in the Festhalle inside 2:08:47, the mark set by Jörg Peter 27 years ago.
Gabius describes his preparations as, “very, very good and definitely on a better level than last year.”
His confidence and training diaries suggests a performance of high quality since he surprised many with his marathon debut of 2:09:32 in the same race 12 months ago, when he finished ninth.
His Italian coach Renato Canova, renowned for his ability to develop athletes and get them to a higher plane of performance, is certainly confident, telling Gabius that his training indicates a time of around 2:07:30 is possible.
It is worth remembering that last year Canova’s pre-race prediction for his pupil was around 2:11-2:12.
Gabius has certainly been putting in the effort in training, running up to 260 kilometres a week at the height of summer. He plans to be in the lead group which is aiming for 1:03:30 at halfway which would potentially put him on course for finish around 2:07.
“I’m convinced I can break the record and by a good margin. There’s no reason to set yourself limits and I think a time under 2:08 is very feasible. I know it’s a big challenge on Sunday and a marathon always has an element of risk and chance; but if I just go for a 2:08:30 time, I’ll be missing out on a huge opportunity for a faster time,” he added.
In parallel to his record pursuit, Arne Gabius is also understandably also the hot favourite for the men’s title in the German national championships which will be held in conjunction with the marathon.
It’s also worth noting that only four European marathon runners have ever gone under 2:07.
However, despite fact that the 2012 European Championships 5000m silver medallist is in great shape and racing on home soil, Sisay Lemma still looks like the favourite.
The Ethiopian ran his best of 2:07:06 to finish fifth in Dubai in January and then won the Vienna title in April, clocking 2:07:31.
His compatriot Bazu Worku is the fastest in the field with 2:05:16 but that dates from 2010 although he won four out of his five marathons in 2013-14 and is a very consistent runner under 2:10.
Kenya’s Micah Kogo should also be one to watch, the former world record holder for 10km on the roads has a best of 2:06:56 from fourth place in Chicago in 2013.
Lemma and Worku to challenge Gabius
At Friday’s press conference, Lemma commented that his confidence his high as goes into his third marathon of the year while Worku maintains his injury problems of the last 12 months are now healed and he is again in top form.
However, Kogo admitted that he needs to move to a higher level in the marathon: “I’ve had to learn a lot about how to run marathons. Frankfurt is a chance for me to achieve what I’m capable of in the marathon.”
“We have a unique line-up in the elite field in that, for the first time here, German athletes will have their share of the spotlight and not be tucked away among the international field,” reflected the Frankfurt Marathon race director Jo Schindler.
The leading group will be paced through to 30 kilometres. “Then it will be a case of, every man for himself and I expect an exciting finish,” said Christoph Kopp, the elite race co-ordinator.
It would be a major surprise if the women’s winner would not be an Ethiopian.
Koren Jelela Yal is the fastest in the field with a personal best of 2:22:43 and heads the field along with her compatriots, the 2015 Paris marathon champion Meseret Mengistu (2:23:26) and Ashete Bekere (2:23:43), who was third in Frankfurt a year ago.
Jelela gave birth in 2013 and only came back to racing earlier this year.
“But I am well prepared for the Frankfurt Marathon,” she said, giving little more away
A half marathon split time of 1:11:30 is the target for the women’s leading group but Yal thinks that it will still be possible to achieve a finishing time of around 2:21.
Another Ethiopian, Meselech Melkamu, established the Frankfurt women’s course record of 2:21:01 three years ago.
Organisers for the IAAF