Dewi Griffiths made a stunning debut over 26.2 miles to finish fifth in the 36th Mainova Frankfurt Marathon on Sunday (29 October). The 26-year-old Swansea Harrier, coached by Kevin Evans, leapt to the top of the UK rankings and became the 15th fastest Briton all time with 2:09:49.
The famous red carpet finish in the Festhalle welcomed almost 15,000 runners from 108 countries in Germany's IAAF Gold Label race, considered to be one of the world's top marathons. Mainova Frankfurt Marathon has been held since 1981 and is Germany’s second largest behind BMW Berlin, which started later the same year.
Despite windy conditions there were some fast times recorded, notably by the leading men. Shura Kitata Tola (Ethiopia, 2:05:50) was the first to sample the raucous atmosphere in the unique indoor finish as he recorded the sixth fastest winning time in the world this year.
Tola was joined by countrymen Kelkile Gezahegn Woldaregay (2:06:56) and Getu Feleke Zegeye (2:07:46) on an all-Ethiopian podium. Kenya's Martin Kiprugut Kosgey (2:09:39) was fourth from leading European Griffiths (2:09:49) and German record holder Arne Gabius (2:09:59).
At one point Griffiths looked capable of breaking the UK best for a marathon debut, held by his fellow Welshman and former world record holder Steve Jones (2:08:05), set when winning Chicago in 1984. M40 master Nicholas Torry (Serpentine, 2:17:37) put in a sterling effort for 20th and Guernsey's Lee Merrien (2:20:25) was a top 30 finisher.
Olympic 5,000m champion Vivian Cheryuiot (Kenya, 2:23:35) won the women's race after making her marathon debut in London this year. Ethiopians Yebrgual Melese (2:24:30) and Meskerem Assefa (2:24:38) were next home. The women’s champion had been on track to improve the course record (2:21:01) but was slowed by strong winds in the closing stages.
The leading British women were Fionnuala Ross (Shettleston, 2:48:44), Rebecca Gallop (Newark, 2:53:10) and Lucy Niemz (Notts AC, 2:56:18).
Eight women finished under 2:30, another notable achievement, prompting race director Jo Schindler to comment: “The conditions were better than expected for the runners but still demanding enough for the runner. We were very anxious about the weather but in the end the running conditions were pretty good and that is reflected in many top quality performances among the results.”
Image courtesy Mainova Frankfurt Marathon press