Eliud Kipchoge will aim to win the BMW Berlin Marathon for the fourth time on Sunday (Sept 25) and the Kenyan is even threatening to challenge his own world record of 2:01:39.
A total of 45,527 runners from 157 nations are set to tackle 26.2 miles on the streets of the German capital but Kipchoge is the stand-out name as he returns to one of his favourite race venues.
His world record was set in Berlin in 2018 and he also won the event in 2015 and 2017. A fourth victory in Berlin would equal the achievement of Haile Gebrselassie, who won the race from 2006-09.
“Berlin is the fastest course. It’s where a human being can showcase their potential to push the limits,” Kipchoge said.
Kipchoge will turn 38 in November but his goal is to win an unprecedented third Olympic marathon title in Paris in 2024. He did not run in the World Championships this summer in Eugene but his most recent marathon was at the Tokyo Marathon in March where he broke the course record with 2:02:40 – the fourth fastest time in history.
On this weekend’s race, he said: “I’m thinking of running a very good race. And if it is my personal best, I will accept it.
“But I don’t want to commit to a time. I will try to push myself. I always say, if you want to push yourself, come to Berlin.”
This weekend his main rival is expected to be defending champion Guye Adola. The Ethiopian won last year’s race in 2:05:45 and posted a brilliant marathon debut of 2:03:46 when runner-up to Kipchoge in Berlin in 2017.
In addition there are a number of runners with PBs inside 2:06 who could challenge. They include the 2015 world marathon champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea (2:05:34), Defene Debela Gonfa of Ethiopia (2:05:46), Mark Korir of Kenya (2:05:49) and Oqbe Kibrom (Eritrea) 2:05:53.
Despite his winning record in Berlin, Kipchoge is not invincible and he has been beaten on the course. In 2013 he finished runner-up to Wilson Kipsang although Kipsang received an anti-doping ban in 2020 for whereabouts failures.
The women’s field is led by US record-holder Keira D’Amato and Kenya’s Nancy Jelagat Meto. D’Amato’s best time of 2:19:12 was set when winning in Houston earlier this year and makes her the fastest female in the line-up.
Jelagat Meto, meanwhile, won the Valencia Marathon lats year in 2:19:31.
Further contenders include Ethiopia’s Gutemi Shone Imana, who has a best of 2:20:11, while Workenesh Edesa has run 2:20:24 and Sisay Gola, has clocked 2:20:50.
Kenya’s Maurine Chepkemoi and Vibian Chepkirui also have bests respectively of 2:20:18 and 2:20:59, although American Sara Hall, an original entrant, has withdrawn with an IT band issue.
Look out too for Rosemary Wanjiru of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Nigisti Haftu, who are both making their marathon debuts.
Berlin is also a traditionally popular event for British and Irish runners and entrants include Stephen Scullion and Sonia Samuels.
The event marks the beginning of a busy period of autumn marathon racing. The TCS London Marathon is on October 2 followed by Chicago on October 9, Amsterdam on October 16, Frankfurt on October 30 and New York City on November 6.