Eliud Kipchoge, Emmanuel Mutai and Geoffrey Mutai duel in Berlin on September 27, by Cathal Dennehy


Mutai-Kipchoge-MutaiPC1-Berlin15.JPGEmmanuel Mutai, Eliud Kipchoge, Geoffrey Mutai, 2015 BMW Berlin Presser, photo by PhotoRun.net

The 2015 BMW Berlin Marathon will be held in Berlin on Sunday, September 27. On one of the fastest courses in the world, some of the world's fastest and fittest marathoners will be racing. RunBlogRun will be covering the race, LIVE around RunBlogRun.com.LIVE.

Here is Cathal Dennehy's feature on the Men's Berlin Presser, which happened, on September 25, 2015.

It couldn't possibly match last year, could it?

At the Berlin Marathon on Sunday morning, three of the fastest men in history will line up alongside each other burdened with the knowledge that last year's race - in which the first two athletes ran faster than the previous world record - will likely prove an impossible act to follow.

In Eliud Kipchoge, Emmanuel Mutai and Geoffrey Mutai, though, the race has once again served up a cast of stars capable of delivering a stirring performance.

The favourite for the race, Eliud Kipchoge, was understandably downplaying his chances of a world record when he spoke to the media at Friday's press conference, instead preferring to focus on bettering his own personal best which, at 2:04:11, is 74 seconds off Dennis Kimetto's world record of 2:02:57.

"I am focusing on a fast time on Sunday," said Kipchoge. "It will be a very special day. These are the fastest guys on the planet and all the Kenyans at home will be watching; it's a chance for me to run a faster time. I'm not saying [I'll run] the world record, but I want to run my PB."

Kipchoge, who won the London Marathon earlier this year in 2:04:42, is widely regarded as the world's best marathoner at the moment and after a decent preparation - much of which was done alongside Emmanuel Mutai in coach Patrick Sang's group - he feels confident of a big performance on Sunday.

"My training has been very good," he said. "We normally train together three times a week, for the important sessions. I have a feeling my body is in good shape and ready to run on Sunday, but for the other [athletes], I don't know."

Emmanuel Mutai, who finished runner-up to Kimetto in last year's race, will square off against Kipchoge for the first time in a marathon on Sunday.

"We are not competitive in training; the real competition is only in the race," said Mutai. "During training we elevate each other and the training has been going very well, so I have had no worries.

"On Sunday I'm just trying to win the race. Kipchoge was a great track runner but when it comes to marathon it's different, because it's about having that ability to run longer. In the end it's all about the preparation, and everyone has to prepare for the same event."

Mutai ran 2:03:13 last year to finish second but on Friday, the 30-year-old refused to be drawn on whether his form matches that of 12 months ago.

"I cannot say I was in better shape last year or this year," he said. "Sometimes you think you are in better shape but then it is different when you compare it to the results, so it's not worth much. What's important is what time you run in the race."

With another formidable Mutai - Geoffrey, who is no relation to Emmanuel - also in the line-up, the aforementioned training partners are unlikely to have it all their own way on Sunday morning.

Mutai, 33, was a champion here in 2012 and has also taken victories in New York (twice) and Boston (once). Although there was a time when he was untouchable in the marathon, his three most recent outings have seen him finish no higher than sixth after prolonged injury trouble.

"I had a lot of pain for a long time after the New York Marathon in 2013 [which he won in 2:08:24]," said Mutai. "I was stressing myself and training a lot but the injury just kept getting worse so I had to take time off to recover. My motivation now is to improve my personal best. I will try to achieve a good time on Sunday."

What has kept him motivated in recent years, he says, is the hope that he can regain his best form - his fastest time of 2:03:02 was run more than four years ago in Boston.

"My goal is to win the races I have not won, like Chicago, London and Tokyo," he said. "I am not resting because of this. I want to get back to win those."

His journey back to the top begins this weekend, but few are expecting him to be able to match Kipchoge and Emmanuel Mutai at the business end of Sunday morning's race.

It will, in all likelihood, come down to the training partners going head-to-head over the final 10 kilometres for their first victory at the Berlin Marathon.

Mutai - who has finished second in seven marathon majors, but only won one - will be keen to show he's more than just a bridesmaid on the big occasions but to do so, he will have to overcome the formidable challenge that is Kipchoge, who appears to have all the weapons to reign supreme and cement his position at the top of the marathon pecking order.

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