I now agree with former marathon world record holder Patrick Makau’s assertion that the hunt for a new mark at the Berlin Marathon by a trio of the fastest men over the distance this year was always going to be an uphill task.
Makau had hinted that with chasing a new record already a real challenge, having three ambitious runners on that assignment was likely to put pressure on them individually and the record may not be a reality.
But first things first, and congratulations are in order for Eliud Kipchoge for winning the Berlin race last Sunday in a world-leading time of 2:03:32, and Gladys Cherono, who returned from an injury-blighted past 12 months to win the women’s race in 2:20:23.
Indeed, Makau’s sentiments came to pass as former world record holder, Wilson Kipsang and Ethiopian multiple Olympic and world champion on the track, Kenenisa Bekele, bowed out prematurely. Olympic champion Kipchoge equally survived a scare despite winning and missing the world record.
PACE SETTING SERVICES
If I may reflect back, this has never happened. The record breaker has always been identified early and good pace setters deployed for him or her.
Former record holder Paul Tergat had Sammy Korir as his main pacesetter while Haile Gebrselassie had our very own two-time world champion Abel Kirui as the destroyer in chief.
Kipsang and current world record holder Dennis Kimetto enjoyed similar pace setting services before delivering their respective records with no threat in the midst.
This time, the organisers planned it differently and were looking at at least three probable record breakers.
But as Makau had hinted, having the three top notch athletes on the same course was likely to be counter productive.
Apart from the record, all of them were under pressure to win the event hence the complication and eventual withdrawal by the two of the three favourites.
Indeed breaking a world record requires a lot of hard work, experience, mental and physical strength as well as a favourable course and weather conditions.
While Berlin is a good course for the record — mainly flat and with minimum headwinds — last weekend’s weather conditions were not favourable and the athletes lacked the mental strength to break the mark.
As far as I’m concerned, this is not over and somebody else may try to pull a surprise in Chicago on October 8.
It will, however, not be easy as exhibited in Sunday’s race.
Better still, one of the three may also try to go under Kimetto’s record of 2:03.38 next year around April.