Kenyan, Ethiopian champs to battle for world record in Berlin marathon

Nairobi, Sep 12 (IANS) Kenya’s former world record-holder marathon runner Wilson Kipsang will return to Berlin on September 25 in a bid to redeem his career after being left out of the Rio Olympics.

Kipsang, 33, will lead a battery of elite Kenyan runners aiming to join the elusive club of athletes to have run the ultimate distance in under two hours and three minutes, reports Xinhua.

“I feel great in my preparations and I look forward to a big race in Berlin. It is a great city to run and the fans are very supportive. But if the weather is perfect, maybe I will try to improve on my personal best,” Kipsang said on Monday in Iten.

Another athlete, who missed out on the Olympics is Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, who is on a mission to prove the selectors of the Ethiopian team wrong.

The duo will face another seven runners who have clocked in at 2:06:00 or less.

The men’s world record has been broken seven times in Berlin, and the world’s fastest time of the year was achieved in the German capital on five consecutive occasions, making the event the fastest race in the world for the classic marathon distance of 42.195km.

The organisers have given a clear indication of their intentions to set the world record by securing Kipsang, who brought the world record down to 2:03:23 in Berlin in 2013 and Bekele, who will be looking to make a big improvement on his debut marathon time of 2:05:04 in Paris in 2014.

But these two outstanding runners would be incorrect to assume that all eyes will be on them.

The fastest man on the start list is not Kipsang, but his fellow Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai. He finished second in Berlin two years ago at 2:03:13, beaten only by the man who set the world record by clocking a time of 2:02:57, Dennis Kimetto.

Another runner to take into account is Ethiopian Tsegaye Mekonnen, who will be making his Berlin debut.

In 2014, the teenager ran a world junior best of 2:04:32 to make headlines in Dubai, but failed to win a place on the national team for the Olympics.

Other Kenyans in the race include Vincent Kipruto (2:05:13), Eliud Kiptanui (2:05:21) and Evans Chebet (2:05:33). They all have the capability of breaking the 2:06 mark.

Race Director Mark Milde says he has high expectations for this talented group of runners.

“We will see a relatively big group in the lead this time since there are a number of athletes capable of going with the kind of pace which will bring a time under 2:04. It could be very exciting and – depending on the weather – very fast,” he said.

–IANS

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