After Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge narrowly missed the World marathon record by the thickness of his fest in London in April, Kenyans return to Berlin this Sunday with Dennis Kimeto’s mark of 2:02.57 being threatened.
Prospects for new world mark will not be in doubt after the organizers of the annual extravaganza unveiled a classy line-up for the International Association of Athletics Federation Gold Label Road Race early this month that includes former record holder Wilson Kipsang.
The BMW Berlin Marathon, synonymous with World Records, has attracted the world fastest this year with Kipsang adding extra gas in his leg gearshift to reclaim the record from Kimeto.
However, it is the presence of Emmanuel Mutai and Ethiopia’s Tseggaye Mekonnen that is making the race mouth-watering with the former priding in a sweltering 2:03.13 he attained two years ago during the record-breaking mission with Kimeto.
“I have trained and selected my competitions with advice from my coaches. For now, I just want to run. What I know without contradicting myself is that the race will be fast,” said Mutai, who trains alongside Eliud Kipchoge in Kaptagat with Global Sports Communications.
Mekonnen, who will be making his marathon debut proper after running a searing 2:04.32 World junior record in 2014 at 19, could play the role of the dark horse as experienced Kipsang and Kenenisa Bekele captivate the eyes of the spectators.
Apart from Mutai, Mekonnen, Kipsang and Bekele, the Kenyan trio of Eliud Kiptanui, Vincent Kipruto and Evans Chebet will add colour to the Sunday challenge with their sub-2:06 scripts.
“We will watch a relatively bigger group in the lead this year given that there are a number of competitors capable of the kind of pace which will bring a time of under 2:04,” predicted Mark Milde, the Race Director, adding, depending on weather, times will be fast.
The women field will also be with the inclusion of two-times winner Aberu Kebede, who, apart from vast experience in the event, also boasts of a faster time in the call-up.
Kenyan Gladys Cherono will wrestle it out with Kebede as she aims at going a grade better from her last year’s world lead of 2:19.25 and also reclaim the title.
The two will be joined by the Ethiopian pair of Birhane Dibaba (2:22.30) and Beriso Amane (2:20.48) to make the category also very competitive.
Last year, Eliud Kipchoge’s dream of shattering the record failed to materialize after his preferred ‘Nike Streak 6’ shoe linings flipped outside, slowing him over first one kilometer into the race. He won the race, albeit under difficult circumstances, returning 2:04.01.
Kenyans have set the last three world records in a string with Patrick Makau chalking 2:03.38 from Haile Gebreselassie’s 2:03.59 before Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimeto lowered the mark to 2:03.23 and 2:02.57 respectively.
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