New stars hope to shine in Berlin Marathon this weekend

Without Haile Gebrselassie chasing the world record this year, the field for Sunday's Berlin Marathon will have a different look as the next crop of stars do battle on the famously fast course.

New stars hope to shine in Berlin Marathon this weekend
Photo: DPA

The Berlin race is known for producing fast times around the German capital, but with Gebrselassie opting to race in the New York marathon on November 7, the door is open for others to try and beat their personal bests.

The 37-year-old Ethiopian set the world record of 2hr 03.59 mins here two years ago, but three of this year’s field have gone below 2hr 06min.

The 2010 favourite is Kenya’s Patrick Makau who clocked the fastest time in the world of 2hr 4mins 48secs when he won the Rotterdam Marathon. He knows Berlin’s streets well after winning the half marathon there in 2007, when he clocked a personal best, and again in 2008.

Compatriot Geoffrey Mutai will be hard on his heels having run 2:04:55, also in Rotterdam.

Both runners know the flat and fast course in the German capital and hope for favourable weather conditions.

Also figuring in the lead mix will be Kenya’s Eliud Kiptanui. The 21-year-old was set to compete in April’s Vienna Marathon but had his travel disrupted by the Icelandic volcano eruption.

He opted instead for Prague three weeks later, and won in a course-record 2:05:39.

The women’s race will also be devoid of its biggest draw card with Germany’s Irina Mikitenko, the 2008 winner, opting to run the Chicago marathon, but German Sabrina Mockenhaupt will be carrying her country’s hopes.

The 29-year-old ran her personal-best when she won the 2008 Frankfurt Marathon in 2hr 26mins 22 secs.

She faces some stiff opposition in the shape of a trio of strong Ethiopians.

Bezunesh Bekele, 27, finished fourth in the London Marathon in 2 hrs 23 mins 17secs in April and has a personal best of 2hrs 23mins 09secs.

Aberu Kebede, 21, ran a personal-best 2hr 24mins 26secs in a runner-up finish at the Dubai Marathon in January, and won the Rotterdam Marathon in April in 2hrs 25mins 29secs.

Genet Getaneh, 24, finished eighth in Dubai, running 2hr 30mins 23secs, but has a personal best of 2hrs 26mins 27secs.

Also figuring into the mix should be Japan’s Tomo Morimoto, who finished eighth in last year’s London Marathon and won 2006 Vienna Marathon.


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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.