The first two competitions of the European Athletics Championships in Munich, which begins on August 15, are the most controversial: the women's and men's marathons.

More than fifty runners are protesting the noon start time.

"Prevent a dangerous heat marathon," they demand in an open letter from the European Athletics Association, the organizers of the European Championships, to which their European Championships belong, and the organizers of the Munich Olympiapark GmbH: "Postpone the start times."

Michael Reinsch

Correspondent for sports in Berlin.

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According to the schedule, the women should start their 42.195-kilometer run through the city center at 10:30 a.m. and the men at 11:30 a.m.

Athletes like the strongest German participants Katharina Steinruck (best time 2:25:59 hours) and Amanal Petros (2:06:27) as well as fellow favorite Lonah Chemtai Salpeter from Israel (2:18:45) complain about serious health risks and warn against heat cramps and heat collapse and potentially fatal heat stroke.

Health comes first

They refer to the fact that the marathons at the Olympic Games and World Championships were held in the early morning and recall dramatic images of runners collapsing at the Doha 2019 World Championships, where the races were held at night due to the extreme heat.

Objections from the athletes' commission were not heard.

"We fully support the intention of promoting our sport through daytime television broadcasting and making it more accessible to viewers," the letter reads. "However, these considerations should never take precedence over our health."

According to the website, the temperatures will drop this coming weekend and will not exceed 18 degrees Celsius on the day of the competition in changeable weather.

The German Athletics Association has been in contact with promoters and organizers since the beginning of the year and has announced that the start times will be moved to the morning if great heat is expected.