What you need to know:
- The world record time is held by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge who clocked 2 hours, 01 minute and 39 seconds in winning the 2018 Berlin Marathon
- Bekele has been quoted saying that he was not aware he was within world record time in 2019 but it was a little too late for him to react
- In the women's category, the course record will be under threat from Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebrekidan who is the fastest in the elite field this season
Focus will be on Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele as he attempts to break the world record in the Berlin Marathon on Sunday.
According to race organisers, the number of starters for this year's race has been reduced due to coronavirus pandemic and up to 25,000 runners are expected to compete on Sunday.
The race will take place under strict Covid-19 prevention measures. All participants must have been vaccinated, recovered from the virus or produce a negative PCR Test.
Over 90 percent of runners entered have been vaccinated and the spectators on the course will also be requested to maintain social distance and wear a mask covering nose and mouth as they watch the race.
The world record time is held by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge who clocked 2 hours, 01 minute and 39 seconds in winning the 2018 Berlin Marathon.
Bekele bagged victory in the 2019 edition when he finished just two seconds shy of the world record.
Bekele has been quoted saying that he was not aware he was within world record time in 2019 but it was a little too late for him to react.
In 2019, he ran a brilliant race and at one time even stopped after feeling some discomfort in his stomach. He resumed the race, zoomed past the leading pack and went all the way to the tape to win in a new personal best time.
Bekele is one of the greatest distance runners of all time with multiple world and Olympic gold medals in both 5,000 metres and 10,000m to his name.
Kenyan athletes will also be trying their luck in the race with Josphat Boit (2:07:20) who trains under Global Sports Communication participating in his first major marathon race.
Boit was among the pacemakers who helped Kipchoge break the world record in 2018 after pacing him to the 25km mark.
Joining him is his training mate and also a rabbit for Kipchoge, Philemon Kacheran who has a personal best of 2:06:05.
Festus Talam (2:06:13), Bethwel Yegon (2:08:35), Michael Njenga (2:06:43) and debutant Bernard Kimeli complete the Kenyan cast.
Also in the mix are Ethiopian athletes Guye Adola (2:03:36), Tadu Abate (2:06:13), Olika Adugna (2:06:15), Tesfaye Lencho (2:06:18) and Okubay Tsegay (2:06:46) among others.
In the women's category, the course record will be under threat from Ethiopia’s Hiwot Gebrekidan who is the fastest in the elite field this season. Kenya’s Gladys Cherono holds the course record of 2:18:11.
Hiwot has a personal best time of 2:19:35 which she clocked in Milan Marathon this year and will be debuting in the world marathon majors.
“I’ve been preparing for the race for a long time and I want to run my personal best on Sunday,” said Hiwot Gebrekidan at Thursday’s press conference in Berlin.
Asked what pace she would like, the 26-year-old said:
“I’d actually like to hold back in the first half. I nevertheless plan to go through half-way mark in just under 69 minutes,” she said.
Ruth Chebitok (2:23:29), Fancy Chemutai (2:24:27), Grace Momanyi (2:28:18), Martha Akeno (2:33:25) and Edith Chelimo (2:29:03) will represent Kenya in the women's race.