WORLD MARATHON RECORD COULD FALL IN GERMANY
KIPCHOGE, KIPSANG AND BEKELE MEET IN THE GERMAN CAPITAL ON SUNDAY
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