Summary: The men’s and women’s categories of this year’s GP Fricktal were won by Merhawi Asmelash and Martina Strähl, respectively. In the Eiken Osterlauf, the honours went to Ludwig Ruder and Iris Lauper.
The 49th edition of the GP Fricktal took place today in Eiken, Switzerland. This classic 10-miler is the main feature of an eventful day consisting of a variety of different disciplines, including walking, Nordic walking and, of course, running. In addition to the long distance race, there is a shorter one of 5.85 km, known locally as the Eiken Hasenlauf, or Rabbit Run.
With temperatures on the cool side, conditions were good for running and there was a good turnout for all of the events. The courses for both of the main running events were undulating and picturesque, despite crossing two bridges to both sides of the A3, the main route between Basel and Zürich.
With a nice show of camaraderie, the Eiken Hasenlauf was won by Ludwig Ruder (615) of LC Basel in 18:54,3, closely followed by team-mate Nicolas Roditscheff (631), two tenths of a second behind. Yared Daniel (479) of Suhr came third. In the women’s category, Iris Lauper (1315) of appropriately named Laupersdorf came in first with a time of 22:22,6 – half a minute ahead of second-placed Angelika Höhemer (1395) of Bern. Third place went to Joana Pani (1313) of Bülach.
In the GP Fricktal over 10 miles, the race was won easily by the favourite Merhawi Asmelash (495) of Dornach with a time of 51:03,9 – an average pace of 3.1 min/km. Second across the finishing line – 1:17,8 behind Asmelash – was Fikru Guta (2) of Villmergen, followed by Mehdi Khelifi (1) of IT-Genova.
In the women’s category, Berglauf specialist Martina Strähl (1001) came in under the hour with an excellent time of 57:11,7. She was followed by Brigitta Mathys (1455) of Büetigen with local runner Bettina Steiger (1268) of Maisprach coming in third place.
Overall, a very well organised and entertaining Easter event.
Weather conditions for the 12th edition of the Zürich Marathon were almost ideal early Sunday morning: a pleasant 12ºC, but overcast and misty with a slightly damp road surface. Not only did the event host the 2014 Swiss Championships, it was also one of the last qualifying opportunities for Swiss runners before selections are made for the 2014 European Championships in August. As a result, the atmosphere was electric and hopes for record-breaking performances were high. A record number of runners (9,521 in total) registered for the event, with 2,753 actually starting the marathon (2,652 finished) and the rest taking part in the Cityrun and team events (report continues after image gallery).
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The race began with a strong start and an eleven-man group passed the half-way mark after 65 minutes. Disappointingly, last year’s winner, Swiss-based Eritrean Tadesse Abraham, who had been able to maintain his position at the front up until this point, lost contact with the leading group soon afterwards due to cramping in his right thigh and was forced to retire at the 32km mark.
A few kilometers before the finish, just four runners – separated by just 12 seconds – were still in contention, but it was the 19 -year-old newcomer from Ethiopia Lemi Berhanu Hayle who was able to mobilize the largest reserves and distance himself decisively from his rivals in the closing stages. He crossed the finish line at Mythenquai in central Zürich after 2:10:40 – about three minutes slower than Abraham’s victory last year. The next three places went to the Kenyans Edwin Kiprop, Samson Kagia and Emmanuel Sikuku, followed by the Russian Stepan Kiselev.
Two Swiss men succeeded in staying below the qualifying time of 2:24 for the European Championships below this limit – Patrick Wieser of Aadorf took gold in 2:18:15 and the silver medal went to Swiss- German dual national Geronimo von Wartburg (2:21:16). Disappointingly, the bronze medalist Tesfaye Eticha of Geneva just missed out with his time of 2:24:54.
Since more than six runners have already achieved qualifying times, the nomination for the European Championships held is still unclear and an announcement is expected early next month.
Patrick Wieser: “I am very pleased by the fact that I could not only manage the EC – limit, but also improve my PB by over two minutes.” This was all the more remarkable, as Wieser is employed full-time in the Zurich cantonal police force and has to organize his training to fit around his work.
In the women’s race, the Swiss runner Maja Neuenschwander soon found herself alone at the front, but – as had already announced before the race – her goal was to run just half the marathon distance which she achieved in a remarkable PB time of 1:12:36.
Beyond this point, the Ethiopian runner Belaynesh Jida Bekele took the lead, but soon had to make way for Zürich-based Mona Stockhecke. The Hamburger was ably supported on her hunt for German EM qualification by two pacemakers and won easily in 2:34:04. Belaynesh Jida Bekele came across the finishing line some two minutes later, closely followed by the Turkish runner Ümmü Kiraz (2:36:45) .
Ursula Spielmann-Jeitziner of Spiez took gold in the 2014 Swiss Championships with a time of 2:41:56, just over two minutes under the EC qualification time. She was followed by Olympic triathlon champion Nicola Spirig, who despite illness and shin problems, crossed the finish line after 2:42:53 hours to take the silver in her first ever marathon. Time will tell if she is asked to represent Switzerland in the marathon in August or whether she will try to qualify for the 10km race.
The Swiss Championships bronze medal was secured by Magali di Marco with a time of just five tenths of a second under the EM limit.
Finally, in the third edition of the circa 10km Cityrun, the organizers again recorded more participants than in previous years. Baselbieter Nicolas Collas, who just the previous evening came first in the classic Birslauf, won the men’s race, followed by Egon Auchli of Engelberg, 16 years his senior. Third place went to Silvan Duft of Zuzwil. In the women’s race, the winner was triathlete Anna Halasz. Second and third places went to Claudia Kahl and Cornelia Studer, respectively. The Teamrun was won by team U-schnäll, ahead of the Old Boys Basel Men and Mixed teams.
Overall this was an exciting and very well organised event. Marathon fans will surely now be looking forward expectantly to the imminent announcement of the selections for the EC marathon in August.