Christop Kopp, Sports Director of the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon, talks about the art of selecting the right elite runners for the race and why all athletes always claim to be in top form.
What does your job look like in the months before the race?
Christoph: I’m on the lookout for top runners who fit into our concept and philosophy in Frankfurt. Unlike other marathons we don’t put our hopes into a few stars but rather try to organize a balanced and exciting race, to direct it if you will. We always feature young and promising athletes who, for example, have very good half marathon results and who we expect to be strong in a marathon as well. It is important for us that all athletes we sign on come from well-known training camps and trainers. „I’m in top form“ is something they all say. But we want to know a little bit more about their training background. That’s why we only work with reputable managers.
Frankfurt was a stepping stone for the career of many runners. Can you name a few?
The first who comes to mind is of course Wilson Kipsang. He came to Frankfurt in 2010 and just knocked our socks of with a 2:04:57 and then doubled down the following year when he finished in 2:03:42 hours – missing the then world record by only four seconds. A world record, by the way, which actually claimed later. In 2008 we got a tip from a camp in Kenya that there was a young guy who should be given a chance. It was Robert Cheruiyot who nobody knew, not really even his own manager. He came, saw and conquered the race in record time.
What do you watch out for when putting together an elite field?
I always try to bring a diverse group of runners, male and female, to the starting line not only three top guys. If these groups harmonize the chances of an excellent race are much better.
So your a a gambler?
Not exactly because we don’t just randomly select athletes but watch for certain characteristics. But of course in a marathon you can’t predict who will outdo himself on a certain day. On the flat course we are famous for athletes have very good possibilities to throw themselves into the limelight and really shine. Sometimes they do it so well that we can’t afford them afterwards.
Do you think another run for the world record will be possible or was 2011 with Kipsang a once in a lifetime event for Frankfurt?
It was the perfect race in perfect weather – the best conditions I have seen since I work for the Frankfurt Marathon in 2003. If the wind blows from the east, for example, the long stretch of the Mainzer Landstrasse is all against the wind. There are many little things that make or break a record run. If all comes together than such a race will be possible again in Frankfurt. Even if we don’t intentionally plan for this. We invest everything into making an exciting race with lots of duels possible. And that went very well for us in the last years.