It should be a history-making event as three of the fastest marathoners on earth line up to race the 44th BMW Berlin Marathon on Sunday, 24 September.
Running for the world record are Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele and Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Wilson Kipsang, who will summon near-super human strength, speed and endurance developed over years of dedicated training. The time they hope to break, 2:02:57 by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto, was set in Berlin in 2014 and both the athletes and the race organizers all see Kimetto’s mark as breakable.
Three-time Olympic champion Bekele, would be aiming at making marathon history in the German capital city. The 35-year-old, who is the reigning champion and world record holder over 5,000 and 10,000m will go into the title defence with the extra motivation of breaking the marathon record. Incidentally, he started running marathons in the year that the record was set.
He missed out on the world record by six seconds in 2016 after completing his race in a time of 2:03:03. If he manages to beat the time and by that set a world record, he would become the first man to hold the marathon, 5,000 metres and 10,000 metre records simultaneously.
“I think I can run better than last year,” said Bekele, who beat former world record holder Kenya’s Kipsang in Berlin last year. Adding that “60 minutes 45 seconds is not my plan. I want to follow the leaders if I can. But I will not be stressed by it and will listen to my body.”
Bekele’s main competition will be from the two Kenyans, Olympic champion Kipchoge who is attempting a sub-two hour race and Kipsang – who came in second last year.
Kipchoge, who has the third-fastest personal best time of two hours, three minutes and five seconds, is keen to break the two-hour barrier and set a world record which currently stands at two hours, two minutes, 57 seconds.
The 32-year-old came close during the Nike Breaking2 project, when he missed out by 24 seconds at Monza, though his time is not an official world record due to aspects of the event not satisfying IAAF criteria.
About the Berlin Marathon
The Berlin Marathon (branded BMW Berlin Marathon for sponsorship reasons) is a major running and sporting event held annually in Berlin. The official marathon distance of 42.195 kilometres is set up as a citywide road race where professional athletes and amateur runners jointly participate. Initiated in 1974, the event traditionally takes place on the last weekend in September.
The Berlin marathon is one of the largest and most popular road races in the world. In 2016, the race had 46,950 entrants (41,283 runners, 5,445 inline skaters, 185 hand bikers, 37 wheel-chairers) from 122 countries, and more than one million spectators. Along with five other races, it forms the World Marathon Majors, a series offering a $1 million prize purse to be split equally between the top male and female marathoners.
The event is split over 2 days. About 8,000 additional inline skaters compete at the marathon course the Saturday before the running event on Sunday. Power walkers, handbikers, wheelchair riders, and a children’s marathon (4.2195 km) are also part of the marathon weekend, which is organised by SCC EVENTS and currently sponsored by BMW.