Kenenisa Bekele, photo by PhotoRun.net
Wilson Kipsang, photo by PhotoRun.net
Wilson Kipsang and Kenenisa Bekele will duel in Berlin on September 25. Many athletic fans and athletic media are considering this a run for the world record. Kipsang is a former WR holder at the marathon and Kenenisa, WR holder at 5000m and 10,000m, is on the learning curve in the marathon wars.
Bekele had his best strategic marathon in London last summer, but was not picked for the Ethiopian team for Rio, much to his regret. Bekele told RBR in Manchester, last May, after his 10k victory over Kipsang, that, if he was not picked for the Olympic team, there would be a fall marathon.
That marathon is Berlin next weekend.
Here's Justin Lagat's piece on the battles to watch in Berlin, probably the fastest marathon course in the world.
Great duels expected on the 43rd edition of the Berlin Marathon, by Justin Lagat
Excitement is building up ahead of the expected big clash between Wilson Kipsang and Kenenisa Bekele this Sunday, the 25th of September, during the 43rd Berlin Marathon when some of the world's best marathon runners will take to the streets of Berlin City to showcase their talents. The impressive fields assembled by the race organizer to run on the world-record-setting course all point to an exciting fast race to watch on weekend.
Kipsang, who set the former world record of 2:03:23 on the same course in 2013, is seen by many as the favorite to win. Reports from some of the athletes in his training group and his recent posts on social media indicate that he is in great shape and ready to run a fast time.
Bekele, who still holds the 5000m and 10,000m track world records, on the other hand, is still aiming to transfer his greatness in long distance running on track to the roads, just like Haile Gebrselassie, Paul Tergat and Eliud Kipchoge. Despite an impressive marathon debut where he set a new Paris marathon course record of 2:05:04, he is yet to win in any of the six world marathon majors. Perhaps this will be his moment to do that and finally get to be in the same league with his long time track rival; Eliud Kipchoge again on the roads.
The two pre-race favorite athletes failed to make the Rio Olympic teams in their respective countries and will also be aiming to prove to the selectors that they were wrong in not naming them in their national Olympic teams. Although, with the huge number of talented long distance runners in Kenya and Ethiopia the selectors have always had a hard time in picking the best marathon runners to represent their countries at the world's major international competitions.
However, focus should not be entirely on the two men since there are other athletes who have run under 2:06:00. The man with the fastest personal best time on the start list is Emmanuel Mutai who had finished second to Dennis Kimetto in 2:03:13 when the latter set the current world record of 2:02:57 in 2014, on the same course. Others are Ethiopia's Tsegaye Mekonnen whose marathon debut time this year at the Dubai marathon was 2:04:32, Kenya's Vincent Kipruto with a personal best of 2:05:13, Kenya's Eliud Kiptanui with a personal best of 2:05:21, Kenya's Evans Chebet with 2:05:33 and Kenya's Mark Kiptoo with 2:06:00.
The race for the women's title will most likely be amongst the Ethiopians with Aberu Kebede 2:20:30, Amane Beriso 2:20:48 and Birhane Dibaba 2:22:30 being the contenders with the fastest personal best times on the start list. Ruti Aga who has a personal best of 2:25:27 is the other top Ethiopian in this race.
Reina Iwade of Japan with a personal best time of 2:24:38 and Kenya's Janet Ronoh with 2:26:03 will be the two non-Ethiopians with the potential to give them a hard run for their money, if not, perhaps, even cause a major upset for them.