When Eliud Kipchoge takes to the startline for the BMW Berlin Marathon on 16 September, his goal for the IAAF Gold Label road race is clear cut: to break his personal best.
The Olympic champion set his PB of 2:03:05 when winning the 2016 London Marathon. His time is just eight seconds shy of the world record set by compatriot Dennis Kimetto at the 2014 Berlin Marathon, but Kipchoge’s mental and physical prowess suggests the world record is within his reach.
“My preparation is entirely concentrated on the BMW Berlin Marathon on September 16,” said Kipchoge, who has won nine of the 10 marathons he has contested to date. “I am confident I can beat my personal best on this fast course if conditions are good.”
Former world record-holder Wilson Kipsang will be another strong contender at this year’s Berlin Marathon. Now 36, the Kenyan set his world record time of 2:03:23 in Berlin in 2013 when Kipchoge finished second, the Kenyan’s only loss in a marathon to date.
Three years later, also in Berlin, Kipsang set a PB of 2:03:13 which left him runner-up behind Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, whose time of 2:03:03 was only six seconds outside Kimetto’s world record.
Kipchoge and Kipsang lined up last year with the target of finishing within 2:03 but their hopes were dashed by steady rain. Kipchoge won in difficult conditions in 2:03:32 while Kipsang dropped out.
Zersenay Tadese will also be in Berlin. The Eritrean has won five world half-marathon titles and holds the world record for the distance at 58:23.
Though highly experienced, the 36-year-old has the least experience of the three in the marathon. His personal best is 2:10:41, achieved at the 2012 London Marathon, but he clocked 2:06:51 in Monza last year in the unofficial race in which Kipchoge attempted to finish inside two hours.