FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Berlin Marathon Men - Sunday: Another Giant Leap?
Just over ten years ago, the teenage Eliud Kipchoge sprang into the public
consciousness by holding off the celebrated Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa
Bekele to win the World 5000 metres title in one of the most exciting
finishes in the history of track distance running. Despite a decade of
superlative performances since then, including Olympic silver and bronze
medals, Kipchoge has not quite managed to reach the heights of that
performance in Paris.
Pursuing, as he admits an 'old school' idea of turning to marathons at the
end of his career, the 29 year old Kipchoge made a winning debut, 2.05.30
in Hamburg six months ago. It was a tough race, but if Hamburg was the
frying pan, Berlin, where he runs on Sunday, will be the fire. The course
may be clement – 'flat and forgiving,' as Desiree Davila characterised
yesterday - but the opposition is torrid.
It would have been more so, had not current world record holder, Patrick
Makau had to pull out, injured, a fortnight ago. But Wilson Kipsang, who
ran just four seconds shy of Makau's 2.03.38, when winning in Frankfurt two
years ago, leads the fray. The unrelated Geoffrey Kipsang, who finished
third in Berlin (2.06.12) last year was also on the top table at today's
(Friday) press conference. And Eliud Kiptanui, who made his own cataclysmic
European debut with a 2.05.39 win in Prague 2010 is waiting in the wings.
Throw in a couple of Wilson K's hand-picked pacers, and all of the
ingredients are there for the 40th anniversary BMW Berlin Marathon to
produce another very fast time, and dare we suggest, another world record,
to add to the seven set here in the German capital since 1998?
Wilson Kipsang left few doubts that his trip to Berlin had any other
objective. "Right from the start, I've prepared to run very well here. It's
in my mind to run the world record. Having run 2.03.42, I know it's
possible. I've trained to my very best, and if everything goes well with
the pacemakers and my colleagues, I think we can do it. It's a team effort,
like in training, even more in a race. The more you have a strong group,
the more easy it is".
Kipchoge and Geoffrey Kipsang were more circumspect. Kipchoge said, "My
main target is to run under 2.05.30, and do a personal best. I will go with
the pacemakers, but I can't say I'll run a world record". Talking of his
transition from the track, he added, "It's hard to adapt. The training is
one thing, but the most important thing is the mind. And in my mind, I've
settled for the road".
At 20, Geoffrey Kipsang is only a few month older than Kipchoge was when he
won his world title in Paris. But after failing to make national cross
country and track teams, Geoffrey K, like so many of his young compatriots
turned to the road. He has run asuperative 58.54, in winning the
prestigious Ras Al Khaimah Half-Marathon in January; but he made light of
his comprehensive defeat of his namesake Wilson, in the Bogotá 'half' three
months ago, saying, "The half-marathon and the marathon are two different
things, I'm just looking to run better than last year. I've prepared well,
but my real focus is the beat my best".
Kipchoge pointed out that his Hamburg performance makes him only the third
man in history, alongside Haile Gebrselassie and Paul Tergat, to run
sub-12.50 for 5000 metres, sub-26.50 for 10,000 metres, and under 2.06 for
the marathon. What he didn't mention is that his illustrious colleagues
both set world marathon records on this Berlin course. And they, along
with other recent world record breakers here - Ronaldo da Costa, Patrick
Makau, Naoko Takahashi, and Tegla Loroupe - will be watching from the
Over to you, Eliud!