By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved/
(08-Jul) — Two-time Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya will return to the BMW Berlin Marathon on Sunday, September 25, four years after setting the ratified World Athletics marathon record of 2:01:39 there. His participation was announced by race director Mark Milde earlier today, who said that Ethiopia’s Guye Adola (2:03:46 personal best) would be Kipchoge’s main rival.
“We are delighted that Eliud Kipchoge will be running the BMW Berlin Marathon for the fifth time,” Milde said in a statement. “In Guye Adola we also have an athlete who could be capable of challenging him. We hope it will be a high quality, exciting race, a showpiece for the whole sport of running.”
Kipchoge, 37, ran his last marathon in Tokyo on March 6, where he won in 2:02:40, the third-fastest time in history. It was Kipchoge’s 14th marathon victory in 16 starts (not counting two exhibition races). Prior to that, he successfully defended his Olympic Marathon title in Sapporo last August in 2:08:38, finishing more than a minute ahead of second-place Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands. It was Kipchoge’s fourth Olympic appearance; he finished third in the 5000m in 2004 and second in the same discipline in 2008.
Berlin’s traditional format of having a small, but very high quality, elite field led by strong pacemakers has always appealed to Kipchoge and his support team. He first ran the race in 2013 when he finished second in 2:04:05 behind Kenya’s Wilson Kipsang who ran a world record 2:03:23 (Kipsang was later banned for doping).
After that Kipchoge won in 2015 (2:04:00), 2017 (2:03:32), and 2018 (2:01:39 world record). His 2015 victory was particularly impressive; he managed to run a fast time despite the fact that the insoles of his racing shoes slid halfway out during the race.
“It would be a good race to inspire people,” Kipchoge told reporters on a video conference from his training camp in Kaptagat, Kenya, where he was about to do his afternoon workout. He continued: “I want to enjoy the streets of Berlin and run a good race.”
Kipchoge has always selected his marathons carefully, conferring closely with his management at Global Sports Communications, his sponsors at Nike and the NN Running Team, and his coach Patrick Sang. He could have elected to run the TCS London Marathon on October 2, or the TCS New York City Marathon on November 7.
Financially, those options would have been at least as good –if not better– than running in Berlin. But in the end, Berlin just felt right.
“It was really hard to make a huge decision,” Kipchoge explained. “We concluded that I should go to Berlin for the fifth time… It was really hard, but we came to a consensus that I should run in the streets of Berlin.”
Neither Milde nor Kipchoge framed his participation as a world record attempt. Instead, Kipchoge said that he hoped to put in a full effort which would inspire people to push themselves in their daily lives. He said that despite his great success, he is still like a student trying to master a difficult topic.
“Every day is a learning day as far as marathon is concerned,” he said.
Running Berlin will not advance Kipchoge’s stated goal of running all six commercial races of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM). He has already competed in –and won– the AWMM events in Berlin, Chicago, London and Tokyo. He has yet to run either Boston or New York, and said that he was still working out his plans for the next several years.
“Boston is still in my target list,” he told Boston Globe reporter John Powers. who was on today’s video conference. Kipchoge was impressed that Powers had joined the conference at 6:30 a.m. local time.
“It’s still early in Boston,” said Kipchoge. “Thanks for waking up.”
PHOTO: Eliud Kipchoge after setting the World Athletics marathon record of 2:01:39 in Berlin in September 2018 (photo courtesy of NN Running Team)