This year’s Berlin Marathon scheduled for Sunday has perhaps attracted one of the finest fields in recent times, drawing some of the fastest runners in the world.
The Berlin course has produced eight world records with five in the men’s event.
It’s now left to be known whether a new holder will emerge with the current world record holder Patrick Makau, who set a blistering two hours, three minutes and 38 seconds in 2011, having withdrawn with a knee injury.
The other long distance runners to have chalked world records at the course are Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie, 2:03:59 in 2008 and 2:04:26 in 2007; Kenya’s Paul Tergat 2:04:55 in 2003 and Brazilian Ronaldo de Costa 2:06:05 in 1998.
The course has also seen some of the finest female distance runners doing their bit with world records falling. They are Hapanse Naoko Takahashi 2:19:46 in 2001, Kenya’s Tegla Lorupe 2:20:43 in 1999 and Christa Vahlensieck 2:34:48 in 1977.
RECORD BROKEN THRICE
However, the women’s record has been broken thrice since Takahashi’s exploits in 2001 with Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba bettering it with a time of 2:18:47 in 2001 in Chicago. The reigning world records holder Paula Radcliffe from Britain would break the record twice, first with a time of 2:17:18 in Chicago in 2003 and 2:15:25 at London.
With Makau out, the world’s second fastest man ever Wilson Kipsang with a time of 2:03:42 from 2012 Frankfurt and bronze medal from 2012 London Olympics (2:09:37), has an interesting battle at hand.
Fresh from winning the 2013 New York Half Marathon (1:01:02), the 31-year-old, who won the 2012 London (2:04:44) said he will attempt to bring down Makau’s record after his attempt in Frankfurt last year shied off by five seconds.
“I believe am up for the big chase as I have trained for long and believe I am now ripe. My big hope is to better my best and break the hurdle that stands in between me and the record. With my team mates I believe we will make it.
“A number of them raced and did well last year. We will do our best as Kenyans pray for us,” said Kipsang, who has been training in Iten for the last month.
Another big contender is Tokyo Marathon champion Dennis Kimeto who bagged silver in Berlin last year after a back-to-back battle with Geoffrey Mutai, who won in personal best 2.04.16. Geoffrey Kipsang was placed third also in personal best 2.06.12.
Besides Kimetto and Geoffrey Kipsang, another athlete to watch is Eliud Kipchoge, who staged a great marathon debut, winning in Hamburg in 2:05:30 on April 21 this year. Kipchoge is the 2003 world 5,000m champion and an Olympic bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008.
Also in the field is the 21-year-old Geoffrey Kiptanui, who won junior title at the 2011 World Cross Country before claiming the Berlin Half Marathon few weeks later on his debut over the distance.
Florence Kiplagat, winner of the 2011 title in 2:19:42, will be looking to reclaim her title as she confronts the 2008 champion and German marathon record-holder Irina Mikitenko.
The Germany won the 2008 event in 2:19:19 the seventh fastest time ever.
An interesting challenge will also come from Kenyans, the 2011 World bronze medallist Sharon Cherop (2:22:39), who is also the 2012 Boston Marathon champion, Georgina Rono (2:21:39) and newcomer Helah Kiprop. Others are Desiree Davila (USA, 2:22:38), Isabellah Andersson (Sweden, 2:23:41) and Remi Nakazato (2:24:28) and Eri Hayakawa (2:26:17) (both of Japan).
The race counts for the World Marathon Majors where Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede top on the men’s leaderboard with 65 points followed by Stephen Kiprotich (50 Lelisa Desisa (40).
and Wilson Kipsang (36). Sharon Jerop is placed fourth in the women’s standings with 35 points.