Organisers of the BMW Berlin Marathon have lined up a mouth-watering elite squad with the world’s top three marathon runners all chasing the world record on September 24.
Dennis Kimetto’s world best two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds will be under serious threat on the streets of the German political capital when Kenya’s Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, former world record holder Wilson Kipsang and Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele all seek to cross the Brandenburg gate and dip under the magical mark next month.
“Eliud Kipchoge’s avowed intention is to break the world marathon record of his compatriot Dennis Kimetto, which the latter achieved in Berlin in 2014,” the organisers said in a press statement on Tuesday.
KIPCHOGE’S ‘LAB TEST’
“Kipchoge had a kind of “lab test” at the beginning of May when he ran 2:00:25, the fastest time ever for the marathon distance, on the Formula One circuit of Monza in Italy.
“But this feat was achieved with the help of a team of substitute pacemakers who also formed a wind shield from start to finish. Under normal race conditions, a maximum of three pacemakers is permitted and no substitutes are allowed,” the statement added.
While Bekele has concentrated his training on the hills of Sululta, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa where he owns a hotel and synthetic running track, Kipsang is training in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County, while Kipchoge is based at Kaptagat, also in Elgeyo-Marakwet. Both Bekele and Kipchoge are managed by Netherlands-based Global Sports Communication while Kipsang, like Kimetto, is handled by Volare Sport, also from the Netherlands.
“It’s a dream match-up. It’s not often that the three strongest marathon men in the world race each other. As organizers, we are crossing our fingers for good weather and thrilling competition,” BMW Berlin Marathon race director Mark Milde said.
The flat and fast Berlin course has accounted for the majority of world record times in the recent past with Kipsang slicing 15 seconds off compatriot Patrick Makau’s world record run on the same course, clocking 2:03:23 in 2013.
But the following year, Kipsang’s Volare Sports stable-mate Kimetto lowered the record to 2:02:57.
Kipchoge later commented: “In Monza I was so close to breaking the two-hour barrier. The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON represents for me the right opportunity to attack the official world record.”
At the age of 32, Kipchoge can look back on a long and successful career as a long distance runner. He won the world 5,000m title in 2003, silver and bronze medals at the Olympic Games over the same distance in 2004 and 2008 respectively and is the reigning Olympic Marathon champion, thanks to his victory in Rio in 2016.
Marathon world records broken on the Berlin course:
1998 — Ronaldo da Costa BRA 2:06:05
2003 — Paul Tergat KEN 2:04:55
2007 — Haile Gebrselassie ETH 2:04:26
2008 — Haile Gebrselassie ETH 2:03:59
2011 — Patrick Makau KEN 2:03:38
2013 — Wilson Kipsang KEN 2:03:23
2014 — Dennis Kimetto KEN 2:02:57
Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia)
Born: June 13, 1982
Marathon PB: 2:03:03 (Berlin 2016)
Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya)
Born: November 5, 1984
Marathon PB: 2:03:05 (London 2016)
Wilson Kipsang (Kenya)
Born: 15 March 1982
Marathon PB: 2:03:13 (Berlin 2016)
Tuwei said all athletes will be paid after the race.