Visit the ebm-papst Marathon website to see one winner’s happy smile ( www.ebmpapst-marathon.de). Bettina Englisch gives the victory sign. Our colleague from Brackenheim has won the half-marathon event in Kochertal Valley for the past three years in a row. Last year, she ran the 21 kilometers in 1:21:54. Of course she is one of this year’s favorites too. She seems to have an affinity for the Kochertal Valley course. And we expect to see her again this year. But even Englisch won’t break the course record set in 2000. It is 1:12:40 hours, set by Judy Kiplimo from Kenya. After all, Englisch is not a half-marathon specialist: she normally uses the 21 kilometers to prepare for marathon runs. Since the long-distance course was changed last year, we will no longer be able to look forward to cheering record times for running the 42 kilometers. It now has lots of hills, which are an obstacle to top times. However, event director Uwe Richlik sees other benefits to the course: “Many runners have told me that they have gone back to running the marathon course. Since time is no longer the decisive factor, the pressure is off.” The course is now more difficult, but more interesting and more attractive, with many views of the valley and the surrounding vineyards. The runners must overcome around 400 meters of uphill segments. ebm-papst Marathon record-holder Kay-Uwe Müller won last year’s premiere of the new course with a time of 2:34:51 hours. The course for this year’s marathon was slightly optimized and the half-marathon and 10K runs will follow the same course. This year, the people participating in the 0-10-21 campaign will be part of the action. Under the professional instruction of a team of coaches led by Stephan Vuckovic, the Olympic silver medal winner in the triathlon event in Sydney, they have been training for the ebm-papst Marathon. For these runners, the focus is not on time. They symbolize the majority of the field: the hobbyists who want to test themselves and enjoy the atmosphere of the event. However, as the course records show, the events always attract runners with greater ambitions. Jan Fitschen (multiple German champion in 5,000- and 10,000- meter runs and 10,000-meter run European champion in 2006) set the course record in 2012 with a time of 30:29 minutes. He was preparing for the European championships at the time, and registered shortly before the event. “Fast runners like him tend to register very late because they spontaneously decide to participate in a training contest,” said Richlik. The event director doesn’t always know in advance who will turn up. Take Florian Röser, the winner of the 10K in 2015, for example. Or Veronica Hähnle-Pohl, on the TSG Heilbronn marathon team along with Bettina Englisch. With a time of 37:30 minutes, she is the women’s record holder for the 10K. “Luckily, she only registered for the 10K – otherwise I would have come in second,” said Englisch with a smile. Perhaps they will battle it out on the same course this year. In addition to the runners, speedy participants on rollers will be on the move in Kochertal Valley. The ebm-papst Marathon will again be the second-to-last race of the Baden-Württemberg Inline Cup (BWIC). The BWIC will end one week later in Ettenkirch on Lake Constance. The skaters will have to master a 25-kilometer course. And the event in Kochertal Valley is also part of a series for handbikers: the National Handbike Circuit (NHC). A number of paralympic athletes have registered for the event in the past, including Torsten Purschke, last year’s winner and course record holder (40 kilometers in 58:16 minutes, set in 2015). “The course is extremely fast,” said Purschke. It will be fun to see what’s possible this year! There is already plenty of information on the event on the Internet: (www.ebmpapst-Marathon.de) and Facebook: (http://www.fb.com/ebmpapstMarathon) More details to come on ebm-papst Marathon weekend. Runners who would like to participate in the duo marathon but do not have a partner can find one in the Facebook exchange at http://bit.ly/Staffelboerse.