Some 33 years after her mother Katrin Dorre won an Olympic marathon bronze medal in Seoul, Katharina Steinruck put herself in an excellent position to claim a berth on the German team for Tokyo after a commanding victory in the NN Mission Marathon in Enschede in the Netherlands on Sunday (18) morning in 2:25:59.
Always distinctive in the leading women’s group by virtue of the blue arm sleeves and the long black tights she elected to race in, Steinruck was part of a quartet which included her teammate Laura Hottenrott and Sweden’s Hanna Lindholm that reached halfway in 72:58, comfortably inside the Olympic qualifying pace of 2:29:30.
The pacemakers didn’t unduly increase the pace in the second half but a near-metronomic tempo caused Lindholm, the lone Kenyan entrant Gladys Chesir and Hottenrott - in that order - to trail away from the leaders. Steinruck, however, stuck to her task with intent.
Having expertly guided Steinruck to 42 kilometres, the pacemakers stepped aside with the finish-line approaching, allowing the jubilant German to break the tape alone in Twente Airport in an Olympic qualifying time and lifetime best of 2:25:59. The winner barely deviated from her early pace, amassing near-identical halfway splits of 72:58/73:01.
“It’s amazing. I can’t believe it at the moment, I’m totally finished but I am so happy,” said Steinruck. “My pacemakers did a very good job. In the last six kilometers I felt my legs, I felt totally finished but I thought ‘run, run, run.’ It’s just one more lap.”
“It was a very tough year - I had three marathons cancelled which was very hard but today I ran a personal best and did great. I’m totally happy and looking forward to my holiday...and Tokyo!”
Steinruck also moves to sixth on the German all-time list behind Irina Mikitenko (2:19:19), Melat Kejeta (2:23:57), Katrin Dorre (2:24:35), Uta Pippig (2:25:37) and Fate Tola (2:25:42).
One of the standard bearers of European distance running for the last decade, Portugal’s Sara Moreira potentially ran her way onto her fourth Olympic team with a well-judged race to finish second in 2:26:42 before succumbing to emotion.
Moreira has proved herself at all distances from the 3000m upwards but the 35-year-old, whose list of accolades includes the European indoor 3000m title from 2013 and the European half marathon title in 2016, has struggled to last the distance in her recent excursions at the marathon. Prior to this morning, Moreira hadn’t completed a marathon since 2015 when she was fourth in New York.
Germany’s Rabea Schonebern finished third in 2:27:03, overtaking her compatriot Hottenrott who faded to fourth in 2:28:02.
Czech Republic’s Marcela Joglova and Jill Holtermann from the Netherlands also secured Olympic qualifying times with 2:28:16 and 2:28:18 along with the revelation of the race, Mieke Gorissen from Belgium.
Making her marathon debut at the age of 38, Gorissen - who only started racing competitively in 2019 - clocked 2:28:31 to finish seventh and move to fourth on the Belgian all-time list.
While Kenya's world record-holder Eliud Kipchoge returned to winning form in the men's race with victory in a world leading time of 2:04:30, Poland's Marcin Chabowski was the leading European finisher in tenth in 2:10:17, just four seconds ahead of his compatriot Adam Nowicki.
Belgium's Dieter Kersten also had an auspicious debut at the distance, securing the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:10:22 in 12th.
Lisowska books ticket to Tokyo with 2:26:08 in Debno
In the Debno Marathon on Sunday (18) which also doubled up as the Polish Championships, Aleksandra Lisowska equalled the national record of 2:26:08 which was set by Malgorzata Sobanska in the 2001 Chicago Marathon.
Lisowska led three athletes under the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:29:30 with Angelika Mach and Izabela Paszkiewicz smashing their lifetime bests with 2:27:48 and 2:28:12 respectively.
The top three finishers in the men's race also undercut the Olympic qualifying standard of 2:11:30. Arkadiusz Gardziekwski won in 2:10:31 from Kamil Karbowski in 2:10:35 with steeplechaser Krystian Zalewski third on his debut in 2:10:58.