News20 Jul 2016

Kipsang and Bekele set to clash at Berlin Marathon


Kenenisa Bekele wins the Paris Marathon in a course record of 2:05:03 (© Jiro Mochizuki)

Distance running greats Wilson Kipsang and Kenenisa Bekele are set to go head to head at this year's edition of the BMW Berlin Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on 25 September.  

While Kenya’s Kipsang has already won Germany’s most prestigious road race, clocking a world record of 2:03:23 in 2013, it will be the first time that Ethiopia’s Bekele competes on the roads in Germany.

Kipsang’s world record was broken a year later in Berlin when fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto ran 2:02:57, which is still unsurpassed. The event will be the first autumn race in the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM) series which also comprises Tokyo, Boston, London, Chicago and New York.

A record total of nine world records have been broken at the Berlin Marathon, which is sure to produce another fast time this year.

Following his world record win in 2013, Kipsang went on to triumph in his two subsequent marathons, winning in London in 2014 and New York the same year.

"I'm happy to come back to Berlin where I ran my world record because I really like the course," he said. "My goal for this year in Berlin is to run as fast as possible. I like to compete in a strong competition and that's why I'm happy that Kenenisa Bekele also is running. And I hope we can stimulate each other to run a fast time. Of course this will depend on the weather conditions on the day of the race and whether the pacemakers can do the right job, as they did during my world record race."

Regarded by many as the most successful long distance track runner of all time, Bekele will be running his fifth race at the distance when he lines up for this year’s race. The 34-year-old is a triple Olympic champion and five-time world champion on the track. That is by no means the end of his achievements, which also include 11 titles at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. He is also world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m.

Bekele made his marathon debut in 2014 with victory in Paris in 2:05:04, followed by fourth place in Chicago the same year in 2:05:51. His progress faltered in Dubai in early 2015, dropping out because of injury, but he proved his pedigree once again with 2:06:36 for third place in London in 2016. It’s worth noting that his illustrious predecessor and compatriot, Haile Gebrselassie, went to the start line of seven marathons before his own great talent was fulfilled in the marathon; it was in Berlin in 2007 when he ran the first of his two world records in the marathon with 2:04:26.

Organisers for the IAAF