History Of Berlin Marathon

It all began October 13th, 1974

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 hrs. It was also in 1977 when there was a reasonable good men’s winning time: British runner Norman Wilson won in 2:16:20.7 hrs.

Berlin Marathon moves to streets of West Berlin in 1981

27th September 1981 was a big day for the organizers of the SC Charlottenburg. For the first time the BERLIN MARATHON was run through the city 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 hrs) was the first winner. Angelika Stephan from Kassel (Germany) won the women’s race in 2:47:23.5 hrs. 3,486 runners from 30 nations participated in the race – the largest field ever in a marathon in Germany. 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 hrs. It was Uta Pippig, who managed a home win. In 1995 Sammy Lelei (Kenya) achieved a remarkable breakthrough. His 2:07:02 hrs 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.

Haile Gebrselassie’s World Record in 2008

In 2008 Haile Gebrselassie was aiming to better his world mark again in order to push it as far below the standing mark as possible to make it as much out of reach for contenders as possible. Favourable weather conditions (sunny, no wind, 14-18 degrees Celsius), timely pacing (62:04 minutes at the halfway mark) and an unexpected contender to run with the champion far longer than expected (Kenyan James Kwambai) made for a perfect race. Haile Gebrselassie finally ended up with breaking 2:04 hours by one second ( 2:03:59 hrs).

Read more interesting stories from the archives of the Berlin Marathon.

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