Eliud Kipchoge insists, again, it’s not his goal, but he takes another crack at the world record at the Berlin Marathon, on Sunday.
“I just want to run my personal best, which stands at 2:03:05,” Kipchoge said Tuesday, according to Reuters, his typical pre-race mindset. “If a world record also happens, that will be good enough.”
Kipchoge, the 33-year-old Olympic champion from Kenya, is expected to challenge the 26.2-mile record of 2:02:57, set by countryman Dennis Kimetto at the 2014 Berlin Marathon.
“Eliud is going there to run for a world record,” countryman and pacer Sammy Kitwara said, according to Reuters. “He is hoping to run a world record of 2:02:40 or thereabouts.”
Kipchoge has come close to the world record in Berlin before.
In 2015, Kipchoge ran 2:04:00 to win with his soles flapping out from the backs of his shoes.
In 2017, Kipchoge won Berlin in 2:03:32, surely slowed by the weather — rain and humidity on the pancake-flat roads of the German capital.
In 2016, Kipchoge clocked his personal-best marathon of 2:03:05 in London, which makes him the third-fastest marathoner ever after Kimetto and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:03:03).
But Kipchoge may be best known for clocking 2:00:25 in Nike’s sub-two-hour marathon attempt in May 2017 on a Formula 1 race track in Italy. The time wasn’t record-eligible, however, as Kipchoge had the benefit of pacers shuffling in and out and drinks being given to runners via mopeds.
Not counting the breaking-two attempt, Kipchoge has won eight straight marathons, which is the longest streak at the highest level of the event in at least 50 years. Other legends Abebe Bikila and Haile Gebrselassie‘s streaks topped out at six.
Though Kipchoge is a veteran, he may still be in his marathon prime at age 33 and in his 11th go at the distance.
Gebrselassie’s fastest marathon came at age 35 (in his ninth marathon); Bekele at 34 (in his fourth marathon) and Wilson Kipsang (the only man to break 2:04 four times) at 34 (in his 16th marathon).
Then there’s the course. The last six times the marathon world record was lowered, it happened in Berlin. Seven of the eight fastest times in history (on record-eligible courses) were recorded in Berlin in the last seven years.
Kipchoge would likely benefit from other fast runners pushing him. That could come in the form of Kipsang and Eritrean Zersenay Tadese, the half-marathon world-record holder, both in Sunday’s field.
Top U.S. marathoner Galen Rupp and four-time Olympic track champion Mo Farah are slated for the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7. Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor defends his New York City Marathon title Nov. 4.