Duesseldorf a first step on the road to Rio for Annie Bersagel?

Bersagel set almost a 2-minute PR to get an upset victory at the Duesseldorf Marathon.

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Press Release
April 28, 2014

In the past year the organisers of the Metro Group Marathon Duesseldorf travelled to a number of major US marathons to advertise their race and the city besides the river Rhine. On Sunday they got something back from America: their first US champion. Annie Bersagel produced a major surprise when she beat the African favourites and clocked a personal best of 2:28:59. It was the first sub 2:30 time from the 31 year-old and there is surely more to come from the part-time athlete who is married to Norwegian mountain runner Oeyvind Helberg Sundby and lives in Oslo.

Bersagel had shown that she was in very good form when she took 13th place in the highly contested IAAF World Half Marathon Championships last month. In Copenhagen she clocked a personal best of 70:09, indicating that she might be able to run even faster than she did on Sunday, provided weather conditions would be fine. Compared to others she came through the wet, cold and uncomfortable weather quite well. “There were many puddles and in the final section of the race I felt a slight problem in my calf,” she said. However the reason why she chose a more careful approach had nothing to do with the bad weather. “I was sick three weeks ago and lost a week of training. That is why I started slower,” said Bersagel, who passed the half way point in 1:15:02 and then was the only elite athlete to run a negative split (1:13:57). 

Annie Bersagel originally comes from north of Denver in Colorado. In her early teens she liked playing baseball and joined a local club. “We were a couple of girls playing in the boys’ team.” When she ran a mile at school at the age of 13 she finished third, “although I was in poor shape”. That experience made her join the school’s track team as a middle distance runner. “In my first race I was second and then after that I won all the others,” she recalls. 

While she ran various track distances up to 10,000 m and also competed indoors and in cross country events Bersagel was at least equally successful at University. At Wake Forest in North Carolina she studied Economics and Political Science. She was honoured as the NCAA Women of the Year in 2006, a prize given to an athlete who was also doing exceptionally well in her studies. Then Bersagel moved to Oslo, where she met her future husband, and completed a Master degree in Political Science. And finally she studied law at Stanford University from 2009 to 2012. Nowadays she has a full-time job as an adviser in an investment company which manages public pensions in Norway.

Most of her training she does with her husband. Oeyvind Helberg Sundby is a 69 minutes half marathoner, but his main event is mountain running. “I tried a couple of races in Norway, but I leave it to him,” says Annie Bersagal, who will now target an autumn marathon. Since her present job contract will terminate in June 2015 she will consider working less for some time afterwards. This would leave more room for training and give her a better chance of achieving her dream goal: Qualifying for the US Olympic marathon team for Rio 2016.