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LRC: Preview Of Women's 2008 real,- BERLIN MARATHON 
Will Irina Mikitenko Follow Up Her London Win With A Win At Home In Berlin?
World Marathon Major, September 28, 2008

by: LetsRun.com
September 24, 2008

The women's race in the real,- BERLIN MARATHON received a huge shot in the arm when Flora London Marathon champ Irina Mikitenko announced her plans to compete just a few weeks ago. Mikitenko, hailing from Germany, is best known for her inspirational, hard-fought victory in London back in April of this year. Her time of 2:24:14 was impressive, especially considering it was only the second marathon of her carer. It also surely boosted her appearance fees, and we're sure they paid big to have her race in her home country. Currently, Mikitenko sits in the running for the World Marathon Majors crown, which means a big payday. If she does win Berlin, she'll shoot to the top, tied with Gete Wami. Mikitenko, though, would hold the tiebreaker considering her defeat of Wami in London (Wami was 3rd).

It is rather interesting that Mikitenko pulled out of the Olympic marathon citing back injuries, which apparently limited her speed training. But was only a few weeks later when she ran 30:57 in a German road 10k to make her not only the 2008 world road leader, but also the 8th fastest woman of all-time on the roads. It seems like she must have been in pretty good fitness in mid-August given her 10k performance, and perhaps the money was more enticing than an Olympic medal, for which she would have certainly contended.

Mikitenko has shot quickly to the top of world marathoning. In her marathon debut in 2007, she was second at Berlin in 2:24:51. Her time was the fastest-ever debut for a German, and her London time is the German national record, since Uta Pippig's 2:21 in Boston was on a point-to-point and net downhill course and therefore not record-worthy. Mikitenko is now 36, but she is relatively new to the marathon. She began her career in the mid-1990s, running 1,500m and 5,000m races, then progressing to 10,000m later. She had 2 children, the second born in 2005, and then set her focus to

Will Irina Be Happy Yet Again?

the roads and marathoning. Anyone who saw her run in London got a taste of what a tough runner she is. It looks like she'll be hard to beat, especially given the huge payout she would set herself up for if she wins her second World Marathon Major in 2008.

Mikitenko could face solid competition from 3 other highly-qualified women. The most superlative on paper is Ethiopian Askale Tafa Magarsa. A top young marathoner, the 24-year-old was 5th in Boston in April, clocking 2:29. But her best performance to date has to be a 2:23:23 in Dubai this January, where she placed second. Over the last four years, she has improved from 2:28 to 2:23 in a steady fashion. She should be one to watch not only in Berlin but in any major marathon going forward. Rose Cheruiyot also set her personal best in Dubai this January, finishing 4th in 2:25:48. In 2006, she won the Amsterdam marathon and she also has experienced success in Berlin at 25km and the half marathon distance, winning those two events previously. Finally, Helena Kiprop posted a 2:26:27 last year in Berlin to place 3rd. Kiprop has performed solidly at several marathons to date, but has not shown the ability to win against top competition.

The remainder of the elite field is unremarkable, with one minor exception: Ayumi Nakayama of Japan. Only 23, Nakayama has nonetheless run 2:28:50 this year in Osaka, knocking 5 minutes off her debut time from Nagoya the year before. Russian Gulnara Vygovskaya (2:28:22, Paris '07), Kenyan Mary Ptikany (2:29:45, Frankfurt '05), Ethiopian Tsege Worku (2:33:25, Frankfurt, '07), and Poland's Edyta Lewandowska (2:34:18, Berlin '04) round out the elite field.

LRC Predictions: 1) Irina Mikitenko (Germany) 2) Askale Tafa Magarsa (Ethiopia) 3) Ayumi Nakayama (Japan)

To bet against the German on her home soil would not be smart. Mikitenko is the most accomplished of everyone in the field and given her recent 30:57 10k appears to be in the best current fitness as well. We picked her as the long shot to watch in London this spring and we're picking her as the favorite here in Berlin.

Askale Magarsa Tafa


bib number: F4
date of birth: 27.09.1984
personal best: 02:23:23 (Dubai 2008)

Irina Mikitenko


bib number: F2
date of birth: 23.08.1972
personal best: 02:24:14 (London 2008)

Rose Cheruiyot


bib number: F5
date of birth: 21.07.1976
personal best: 02:25:48 (Dubai 2008)

Helena Kiprop


bib number: F3
date of birth: 09.09.1976
personal best: 02:26:27 (Berlin 2007)

Gulnara Vygovskaya


bib number: F7
date of birth: 06.09.1980
personal best: 02:28:22 (Paris 2007)

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