Summary: Tadesse Abraham and Cynthia Kosgei won the elite men’s and women’s categories at this year’s 10 mile GP Bern.
With an impressive total of 32,116 registered participants from 91 countries – 9.9% more than last year and the biggest field in the 33 year history of the event – the Bern Grand Prix clearly exceeded all reasonable expectations this year.
One possible reason for this heightened interest: the so-called Haile-Effect. The appearance last year of Haile Gebrselassie was massively successful, simultaneously winning the hearts of the local populace and further raising public interest in long distance running.
But how could the organisers possibly top that this year? Would Haile be invited back? Or perhaps someone like Mo Farah?
According to this article in the Berner Zeitung, the answers to the last two questions were clear: the cost of attracting another big star would be prohibitive. Instead, the focus for this year’s race would be on the Swiss run-up to the men’s and women’s marathons at the European Athletics Championships, which take place in Zürich in August.
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As a consequence, all eyes were on EM-marathon nominees Viktor Röthlin, Adrian Lehmann, Michael Ott and Tadesse Abraham who were representing the men’s team in the elite category, and Maja Neuenschwander and Martina Strähl the women’s team. Plus of course a talented group of foreign athletes, including last year’s winner Kenyan Cynthia Kosgei. All in all, an exciting prospect in store for the many spectators.
They were surely not disappointed. Fresh from winning the Luzerner Stadtlauf a week ago, the charmingly modest Cynthia Kosgei won the women’s category with a time of 56:09, marginally slower than last year, but some 45 seconds ahead of second-placed Katarina Beresova of Slovakia. Maja Neuenschwander came in third with a time of 57:12,8 – over a minute faster than her previous PB set in 2011 – and EM-marathon team-mate Martina Strähl was fifth behind Tetyana Vernyhor of the Ukraine.
In the men’s event, a frantic sprint and a photo finish resulted in a second GP victory for Tadesse Abraham (48:32,6), this time over the very quick Kenyan Patrick Ereng, (48:32,7) who had prevailed in their last outing in Luzern last week. Swiss-based Eritrean Simon Tesfay took third place some 18 seconds later and Viktor Röthlin and Adrian Lehmann came 7th and 10th, respectively.
Here is a graphic showing all sub-1 hour finishers according to age group (click image to view in detail).
The level of planning and organisation for the whole event in Bern this year was meticulous and extremely well executed – exactly what you might expect from an event of this standing. Gratifyingly, the EM-marathon team members seem to be going from strength to strength as the year progresses, which augurs well for a successful and entertaining European Championships.