UK version[US]
home | contact | site map

History of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON

The story of the BERLIN-MARATHON is a story of the development of road running. When the first BERLIN-MARATHON was started on 13th October 1974 on a minor road next to the stadium of the organisers‘ club SC Charlottenburg Berlin 286 athletes had entered. The first winners were runners from Berlin: Günter Hallas (2:44:53), who still runs the BERLIN-MARATHON today, and Jutta von Haase (3:22:01).

It was until 1980 that the marathon route led the runners along the Grunewald, a forest in West Berlin. The maximum participation in those days was 397 in 1976. But already during the early stages there was a world record. In 1977 the national marathon championships were held at the event for the first time. Women’s winner Christa Vahlensieck set a new world best clocking 2:34:47.5. It was also in 1977 when there was a good men’s winning time: British runner Norman Wilson won in 2:16:20.7.

27th September 1981 was a big day for the organisers of the SC Charlottenburg. For the first time the BERLIN-MARATHON was run through the main streets of West Berlin. The race was started in front of the Reichstag and finished on Kurfürstendamm. But it had been hard to persuade the local government and the police to move the race into the city. Ian Ray (Great Britain/2:15:41.8) was the first winner on Kurfürstendamm. Angelika Stephan from Kassel (Germany) won the women’s race in 2:47:23.5. 3,486 runners from 30 nations participated in the race. Quality of the BERLIN-MARATHON then improved from year to year. And numbers of participants strongly increased from 1981 onwards. In 1985 more than 10,000 entries were registered for the first time (11,814).

On 30th September 1990 a dream came true. Three days before the German unification 25,000 runners ran through Brandenburg Gate – a lot of them with tears in their eyes. It was also the day when BERLIN-MARATHON established itself among the fastest marathons in the world. Steve Moneghetti (Australia) ran the fastest time of the year: 2:08:16. It was Uta Pippig, who managed a home win. In 1995 Sammy Lelei (Kenya) achieved a remarkable breakthrough. His 2:07:02 was the second fastest time of all times and the fastest for more than seven years. He missed the world record by just twelve seconds.

The 25th BERLIN-MARATHON in 1998 had a record number of 27,621 athletes who had entered the race. And the jubilee edition was unexpectedly crowned by a world record. Ronaldo da Costa ran the race of his life. He clocked 2:06:05 hours and became the first athlete to have run the marathon in an average speed of more than 20 k per hour. A year later another world record was broken. This time Tegla Loroupe became the hero of the BERLIN-MARATHON. The Kenyan ran 2:20:43. Men’s winner Josephat Kiprono (Kenya) ran a world class time of 2:06:44 as well.

In 2001 a Japanese superstar had decided to run the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON: Naoko Takahashi. The aim of the Olympic champion was obvious. She wanted to be the first woman to run sub 2:20. And finally she was the one to do so. Takahashi won in 2:19:46. After the 11th September the race had a political dimension as well. The runners held up a banner before the start. It read “United we Run” and showed the symbols of both the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON and the ING New York City Marathon. A year later Naoko Takahashi was back in Berlin. After injury problems it was her first marathon since her triumph a year ago and she won again in 2:21:49. Raymond Kipkoech (Kenya) was the fastest with 2:06:47.

In 2003 Paul Tergat crowned the jubilee edition of the 30th real,- BERLIN-MARATHON with a sensational new world record. The 34 year-old Kenyan became the first runner to achieve a sub 2:05 time in the classical race. Paul Tergat ran 2:04:55. Surprisingly Sammy Korir came very close to beating Paul Tergat. He finished just one second behind. Titus Munji, another Kenyan who belongs to Tergat’s group, was third in 2:06:15. Regarding these three results the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON was the best ever marathon. Additionally no other team has been as fast as these three Kenyans (6:16:06). But there was another world record in the men’s race: Andres Espinosa (Mexico), the winner of the New York Marathon in 1993, became the first master runner to run sub 2:10 (2:08:48). Berlin’s women’s winner was Japan’s Yasuko Hashimoto with 2:26:32. It was the first time the finish was at Brandenburg Gate.

In the next two years Japanese women set the highlights once again. In 2004 Yoko Shibui improved the course record to 2:19:41. And in 2005 Olympic Champion Mizuki Noguchi bettered that mark to 2:19:12 which was a new Asian record as well. The real,- BERLIN-MARATHON has developed into one of the world’s best quality road races.

The mass race has developed accordingly: 39,636 runners had entered the 2006 race. Haile Gebrselassie set the highlight of the 33rd edition when he clocked a superb 2:05:56 in warm weather conditions. This remained the fastest time of the year worldwide and lifted him up into seventh place in the list of the fastest times ever. Little more than 15 minutes later Gete Wami made in an Ethiopian double: She clocked 2:21:34 to win the 33rd BERLIN-MARATHON.