Cathal Dennehy wrote this piece for RunBlogRun after the BMW Berlin Press Conference for Women today. Remember, you can follow RunBlogRun’s social live coverage on Berlin Sunday, September 27, 2015 at http://live.runblogrun.com/
Watch for our piece on the men’s presser tomorrow.
Though it will, almost inevitably, be overshadowed by the stellar line-up in the men’s field, there is nonetheless every reason to keep one eye on the women’s race when the Berlin Marathon gets underway on Sunday morning.
In Gladys Cherono – a former track and half-marathon standout who is a recent convert to the marathon – the event may have unearthed a new star.
At 32, the Kenyan isn’t exactly and up-and-comer any more, but when it comes to the 26.2-mile distance, she clearly ranks as the most inexperienced in Sunday’s field.
Cherono, a world silver medallist over 10,000m in 2013, only turned her attention to the marathon this year, making the third fastest debut of all time when finishing second in Dubai in 2:20:03. Last year, she won the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen and earlier this year, she lowered her best at that distance to 66:38.
Over the past year, the move to the marathon has been a natural progression and at the press conference in Berlin on Thursday, Cherono said she feels ready to produce a sub-2:20 clocking.
“I have prepared very well and I want to run my personal best,” she said. “We have a strong field who have run a lot of marathons who have a lot more experience but I’d like to win the race.”
Cherono, who trains alongside Mary Keitany under coach Gabriele Nicola, has upped her mileage since moving to the marathon, regularly completing long runs of 40km (25 miles) and logging 180km (112 miles) a week.
“It’s been challenging moving up,” she said. “The half marathon is not like the marathon; the half is like speedwork compared to this. When I was running track it gave me a lot of speed for road races, and I want to transfer that to the full marathon now.”
Back home in Kenya, Cherono is surrounded by world class marathoners, who have often told her that she’s going to the right place to produce a fast time.
“They have told me Berlin is a faster course, that it’s like Dubai, but I will see on Sunday,” said Cherono. “I have done a lot of endurance to prepare. I have trained very well and if everything goes well, if the weather is good, I hope I can win. I’d like to be like [Mary Keitany]. I cannot say I will run 2:18, but I hope.”
Cherono is unlikely to have it all her own way on Sunday as she will line up alongside the two-time Berlin Marathon champion Aberu Kebede of Ethiopia. This will be Kebede’s 10th marathon major and with three wins to her name already (two in Berlin, one in Tokyo), she hopes to add her fourth on Sunday.
“I really love running in Berlin if I could win the title again that would really be a crowning point for me,” said Kebede. “The fans are fantastic, we all know the course is super-fast; there’s everything an athlete could wish for. We just have to wait and see what happens on Sunday. With a little bit of luck help from above, I’d certainly be looking to run under 2:20.”
Race Director Mark Milde is pleased with the talent he’s managed to recruit for the women’s race, and he feels Cherono may be the one to beat when the gun fires at 9am on Sunday morning.
“I think Gladys Cherono, with the year she’s had so far, is a big contender,” he said. “She is aiming for 2:20 and from what I heard from her pacemakers, I think that’s feasible. They’re going for 2:19. Sometimes runners at press conferences say times they are not able to achieve, but I believe she has that calibre that she can stick to that promise.”