Marathon race in Berlin tough to call

Thursday August 31 2017

Ethiopian elite runner, Kenenisa Bekele poses during a photocall for the men's marathon elite athletes outside Tower Bridge in central London on April 20, 2017 ahead of the upcoming London Marathon. PHOTO | DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS |

Ethiopian elite runner, Kenenisa Bekele poses during a photocall for the men's marathon elite athletes outside Tower Bridge in central London on April 20, 2017 ahead of the upcoming London Marathon. PHOTO | DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS |  AFP

By BARNABAS KORIR
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Another interesting contest is shaping up at the Berlin Marathon next month as the world’s top three marathoners come face to face in pursuit of a new world record.

Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele will compete against Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Wilson Kipsang on September 24.As usual, I am putting my money on Kipchoge, considering his recent feats.

The Olympic champion has the third-fastest official time of two hours, three minutes and five seconds and he is keen to break the two-hour barrier and set a world record.

My confidence is boosted by the fact that the man is fresh from tackling the Nike Breaking2 project in which he missed dipping under two hours by just 24 seconds at Monza.

Although his time is not an official world record, due to aspects of the event not satisfying IAAF criteria, the fact that he also skipped the World

Championships means that he is still very fresh for the mission. The 32-year-old is full of surprises and will always stun you when you least expect.

But this is not to say I’m ruling out Kipsang, who set a new mark at Berlin in 2013 although his time of 2:03:23 was erased a year later by Dennis Kimetto, who currently holds the record at 2:02:57.

DIG DEEPER
On a good day, Kipsang can also rise to the occasion, especially in a big city marathon like Berlin. ]

The beauty is that he knows his two opponents very well having battled them at different stages and I guess he will do the right thing when push comes to shove.

However, he will have to dig deeper to match the two, who had a stellar track career amid tough rivalry in the 5,000 metres during those days.

Bekele, who started running the marathon in 2014, also came close to breaking the record in Berlin last year but lost out by six seconds, after he was  hindered by muscle problems.

He is regarded as one of the best runners of all time and holds the world records for the 5,000m and 10,000m distances. Bekele has won five World Championships and 11 World Cross Country Championships titles and cannot be wished away.

If anything, he is aware of what to expect from Kenyans and unless something happens, he is not known to give up.

This time, I’m sure Kimetto’s record faces a real threat and the question is not if it will fall, but by how many seconds. This is a tense moment and may the best runner win.