FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BERLIN MARATHON MEN'S PREVIEW
berlin, friday, september 24, 1100gmt
Berlin may not be the best place in the world for long term long distance
training - "flat as a pancake, boring" - moaned one colleague when he
returned from an early morning run in the Tiergarten today.
But if you want to run a fast time, then the real_Berlin Marathon, on
Sunday morning is the one for you.
The modern era of marathon running began here in 1998, when the little
known Ronaldo da Costa of Brazil broke the decade old world record of
Ethiopian Delayneh Dinsamo, with 2.06.05.
Twelve years and five more world records later, the most recent being Haile
Gebrselassie's 2.03.59 two years ago, Berlin is firmly positioned at the
top of the tree for fast courses.
After four straight victories and two world records for Gebre, who has
brought the wheel round full circle in reclaiming the record for Ethiopia,
Berlin now moves into its post-Geb phase, a more than welcome move for
those who prefer a competitive race to a solo paced world record assault.
Berlin could have it both ways on Sunday. Of course, there will be
pacemakers - few major races outside championships would dispense with them
nowadays. But with three of the most exciting young marathon talents -
Patrick Makau, Geoffrey Mutai and Eliud Kiptanui - in the field, a great
contest is expected, with more than a possibility that one of that top trio
could reclaim the record for Kenya, whose last luminary to hold it was Paul
Tergat, in this same event in 2003.
Makau, 25 has run eight times under the hour for the half-marathon,
including winning the Berlin 'half' twice. He established himself as a
marathoner with fourth in the Rotteram race last year, before dropping out
of New York with an injury last Autumn. But he arrived at the head of the
pack with victory in this year's Rotterdam Marathon, in 2.04.48, the year's
fastest time, making him the fourth fastest man in history.
But Mutai, 28, was only seven seconds behind, having only been dropped in
the final kilometre. Their trajectories since then could not have been more
different, and it will be intriguing to hear their assessments after the
race. Because while Makau has chosen not to race at all, Mutai has run
several races, including two rapid 10,000 metres on the track, at altitude,
the second being a bronze medal performance at the African Championships in
Nairobi, with 27.27.59.
A performance like that would be inconceivable to any non-East African
born/trained (ie at altitude) athlete, and underlines just why the marathon
world is dominated by Ethiopians and Kenyans.
Which brings us to the third man with pretensions to victory on Sunday, yet
another Kenyan. The emergence of another potential young world record
breaker from Kenya had almost ceased to be surprise, such is the wealth of
talent and the will to succeed in the country. But Kiptanui's 2.05.39 in
winning the Prague Marathon in May, a month short of his 21st birthday, was
a shock as much for the time in only his second marathon, and his first
outside Kenya, but the fact that Prague is a very different course to
Berlin, with several kilometres of cobblestones adding to its difficulty.
At today's (Friday) press conference, all three seemed relaxed about a
projected first half in 62 minutes, Makau raising a laugh when he talked
about the half-marathon being "a sprint. But at least when you get tired,
the race is over.
"The marathon is completely different, you need patience, you have to wait.
The race only begins at 30k. I've prepared well, I feel good. I think I'm
capable of breaking the world record, but so are my friends here," he said,
indicating Mutai and Kiptanui alongside him.
Mutai concurred, "The marathon is not easy, it needs cooperation between
the runners, especially after the pacemakers drop out. If we can work well
together, there's no reason we can't run faster than in Rotterdam".
The weather looks as if it may help out. The bright sunshine and mid-20s
celsius temperatures which have reigned over northern Europe this week are
due to disappear in the next two days, with showers and 12-15C projected
for Sunday morning.