Eliud Kipchoge is ready for a very fast race in the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON on Sunday which may well lead him to break the world record here for the second time. The double Olympic champion, who set the current world record of 2:01:39 in Berlin four years ago and also broke the two-hour barrier when he ran 1:59:40.2 in a race in Vienna in 2019 which did not conform to regulations, will start as the clear favourite.
Organisers of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON have registered 45,527 runners from 157 nations for the 48th edition of the event. Germany’s most spectacular road race is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM) and is also a Platinum Label Road Race of the international athletics federation, World Athletics.
The 37-year-old Kenyan held back from making any hard and fast promises when he spoke two days before the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. “I’d like to thank the organisers for letting me race again in Berlin after four years and expect a very good race. I’ve trained well as usual – every training day is a challenge.”In response to the question at the press conference, what would be “a very good race” for him, Eliud Kipchoge answered: “A very good race is a good race.” That got the audience on his side before he added: “I want to inspire people and if a course record comes out of this at the end, I will appreciate it,” added this outstanding athlete. It should be noted that the course record is, of course, the world record, but Eliud Kipchoge was careful not to utter these words.
The world record holder, whose career so far has brought him victory in all but two of his 18 marathons, could well achieve his fourth win in Berlin after taking the title in 2015, 2017 and 2018. That would bring him equal with the Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie as the two men with most wins in Berlin. If the world athlete of the year for 2018 and 2019 is in world record form, Eliud Kipchoge should prove unbeatable on Sunday. On the other hand, the elite field has plenty of strength in depth. Heading the list of challengers is last year’s champion Guye Adola from Ethiopia, winning the title in unseasonably warm conditions in 2:05:45 and beating the Ethiopian superstar Kenenisa Bekele into the bargain.
It was in Berlin in 2017 that Guye Adola ran what remains his personal best of 2:03:46 and on his debut at the distance. Only Eliud Kipchoge finished ahead of him though from time to time Adola took the lead. “I have prepared well and look forward to the race,” said the 31-year-old, who described Kipchoge as “a hero.”
The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON has greater strength in depth among the men’s elite field than ever before. As many as 18 runners have personal bests under 2:08. Among them is Ghirmay Ghebreslassie who caused a surprise when winning the world title in 2015 and also won in New York the following year. The Eritrean athlete has a best of 2:05:34 which he set in finishing third in Seville in February. “It’s a big challenge to run in such a field and against Eliud Kipchoge. I’ll do my best and my aim is a place on the podium,” said Ghirmay Ghebreslassie.
An unusually large number of Japanese runners will be among the elite starters, the reason being that they are trying to qualify for the 2024 Olympics. There will be 13 of them with personal bests of under 2:10 in the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. The fastest of them is Ryu Takaku with a best of 2:06:45.
The leading German in the field is Johannes Motschmann, who was a member of the German team at the European Championships which won the silver medal in Munich. Despite a short recovery time of six weeks since that competition, the 28-year-old wants to improve his personal best of 2:12:18 in the direction of 2:10. “The race in Berlin is the biggest of my career so far. Since I’m a hometown boy here, I’d even rate it above the European Championship marathon,” said Motschmann, who runs for the Marathon Team Berlin.
The Austrian record holder, Peter Herzog, will also be aiming to take advantage of conditions at the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON and run faster than ever before. His current best is 2:10:06 and his ambition is to become the first Austrian to break 2:10.
Brazilian Football Legend Kaká runs in Berlin
While a double world athlete of the Year in Eliud Kipchoge will take centre stage, a former star of world sport will be running some way behind him: the Brazilian football legend Kaká, a member of the team which won the World Cup in 2002, and also a Champions League winner and Footballer of the Year.
“I definitely wanted to run a major marathon and asked friends who recommended Berlin to me. That’s why I’m here. On Sunday I want to run 3:40. The marathon is something very special in that we, as mass runners, run together with the elite. I’m very excited,” admitted Kaká at the press conference.
Elite runners with personal bests
Eliud Kipchoge KEN 2:01:39
Guye Adola ETH 2:03:46
Ghirmay Ghebreslassie ERI 2:05:34
Dejene Debela ETH2:05:46
Mark Korir KEN2:05:49
Ashenafi Moges ETH2:06:12
Tadu Abate ETH2:06:13
Bethwel Yegon KEN2:06:14
Awet Habte ERI2:06:25
Ryu Takaku JPN2:06:45
Limenih Getachew ETH2:06:47
Zablon Chumba KEN 2:07:18
Kenya Sonota JPN 2:07:23
Kento Kikutani JPN 2:07:26
Kazuki Muramoto JPN 2:07:36
Tadashi Isshiki JPN2:07:39
Atsumi Ashiwa JPN 2:07:54
Yuki Matsumura JPN 2:09:01
Peter Herzog AUT 2:10:06
Johannes Motschmann GER 2:12:18
More information is available online at: www.berlin-marathon.com
Cover photo credit: photorun.net