Athletics Weekly - - Previews -

WORLD-CLASS fields, great pace-mak­ing, an ideal cli­mate and flat, cam­ber-free roads shel­tered by lots of build­ings have led to Berlin hav­ing the fastest big-city marathon course in the world. The last six men’s world records have been set in the Ger­man city, not to men­tion a cou­ple of women’s world records in the last 20 years too.

Given this, an­tic­i­pa­tion is high ahead of Sun­day’s race with ar­guably the top three marathon men in the world set to clash. They are:

Eliud Kip­choge: Olympic marathon cham­pion and fastest marathoner of all-time cour­tesy of his 2:00:25 in Monza in May in a race dis­counted for record pur­poses due to the op­ti­mal con­di­tions cre­ated by his shoe spon­sor Nike. The 32-year-old Kenyan also ran 2:03:05 in Lon­don last year to miss Den­nis Kimetto’s of­fi­cial world record of 2:02:57 by eight sec­onds.

Ke­nenisa Bekele: the Ethiopian holds the world 5000m and 10,000m records and has won mul­ti­ple global track and world cross coun­try ti­tles. In the marathon his best is 2:03:03 from, you guessed it, Berlin in 2016.

Wil­son Kip­sang: the 35-year-old Kenyan set a world record of 2:03:23 in Berlin in 2013 and has won marathons in Lon­don (twice), Frank­furt (twice), New York City and Tokyo.

“In Monza I was so close to break­ing the two-hour bar­rier,” says Kip­choge. “Berlin rep­re­sents for me the right op­por­tu­nity to at­tack the of­fi­cial world record.”

Mark Milde, race di­rec­tor of Berlin since 1999, says: “It’s a dream match-up. It’s not of­ten that the three strong­est marathon men in the world race each other. As or­gan­is­ers we are cross­ing our fin­gers for good weather and thrilling com­pe­ti­tion.”

As well as the big three, the field in­cludes Pa­trick Makau, the Kenyan who set a world record of 2:03:38 in Berlin in 2011.

Scott Over­all of Bri­tain re­turns to the venue of his break­through run in 2011 that saw him qual­ify for the Lon­don Olympics with 2:10:55. Com­mon­wealth cham­pion Michael Shel­ley of Aus­tralia also runs.

In the women’s field there are six run­ners with sub-2:24 PBs.

Four of them are Ethiopi­ans and two are from Kenya and lead­ing the field is the Kenyan Gla­dys Cherono, win­ner in Berlin in 2015 with 2:19:25.

Cherono’s ri­vals in­clude de­fend­ing cham­pion Aberu Kebede, a three-time Berlin win­ner and fel­low Ethiopi­ans Amane Beriso, run­ner-up in Dubai 2016, Gu­lume Tollesa, the 2015 Frank­furt win­ner, and Me­seret Mengistu, the 2015 Paris cham­pion. Look out too for Valary Aiyabei of Kenya, who has a PB of 2:21:57.

Bri­tish in­ter­est in­cludes So­nia Sa­muels, Lily Par­tridge and Jess Coulson. Sa­muels will be look­ing to im­prove her 2:28:04 PB, while Par­tridge will be hop­ing to build on her 2:32:09 de­but marathon run in Seville ear­lier this year.

Clash of the ti­tans: Ke­nenisa Bekele, Wil­son Kip­sang and, in­set, Eliud Kip­choge will meet in the BMW Berlin Marathon

Gla­dys Cherono: Berlin Marathon win­ner in 2015

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