Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata who is the reigning London Marathon champion has insisted he is ready to defend his crown on Sunday (3) despite being troubled by a hamstring injury.
Last year in October, Kitata edged a sprint finish in the elite men’s race to topple the great Eliud Kipchoge, who had won the annual event in England’s capital on four occasions.
The Ethiopian could not follow up a maiden London Marathon title with success at the Olympics this summer and pulled out in hot and humid conditions in Sapporo.
“I have some slight problems but still I am preparing to win and looking forward to it,” the 25-year-old said via a translator during Wednesday’s press conference.
“I was prepared very well before the Olympics and just two weeks before I had a hamstring injury, that was a big pressure for me. Otherwise I have prepared well and I am feeling confident to run on Sunday.
“The hamstring and the pain is not really easy and when it is a very fast speed, there might be some problem but I am looking forward to doing what I did before.”
Another sprint finish this year would raise doubts over the Ethiopian’s ability to clinch the event for a second time but he reflected on the life-changing experience of triumphing over Kipchoge, who bounced back to defend his Olympic title in August.
“I was very happy with the win last year and it had great meaning because Eliud is a very famous runner and a very strong runner so winning meant a lot,” Kitata added.
Kitata will battle for the honors with Evans Chebet from Kenya who will be making his debut and Birhanu Legese from Ethiopia who is the fastest man in the field following his winning run of 2:02.48 at the 2019 Berlin Marathon.
Berlin Marathon organisers expect about 25,000 runners to take part on Sunday, making it the biggest marathon since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The September 26 event was cancelled last year because of the global health crisis but returns on the streets of the German capital.
“The time is ripe for us to send a signal to the outside world that we are still a sports metropolis,” Juergen Lock, managing director of organiser SCC Events, said. He expects more than 90 per cent of participants to be either fully vaccinated or to have recovered from a coronavirus infection.
KENENISA BEKELE TO COMPETE IN BERLIN MARATHON (Sep. 26)
“I will come back with good energy and motivation to BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. The last race in Berlin motivated me a lot, so I hope I will fulfil my plan this year.” Kenenisa Bekele SCC EVENTS/Norbert Wilhelmi pic.twitter.com/CI5cPjnduW
All others must undergo a PCR test no earlier than 48 hours before the start. Wearing masks in the start and finish areas is mandatory for runners, as well as for all spectators along the 42.195-kilometre course. “All runners can run liberated,” Lock said.
With two smaller events in recent weeks including a half marathon, the organisers have gained experience for the big event, which will be held on the same day as the German general election.
The most prominent runner is Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele.
The 39-year-old missed the world record of Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya by only two seconds in his victory in 2019 in two hours one minute 41 seconds. Kipchoge set the mark in Berlin in 2018. The women’s field is led by Hiwot Gebrekidan, the Ethiopian who ran a year’s best 2 hours 19 minutes 35 seconds in Milan.
It’s no secret that the Berlin Marathon course is fast. In fact, as of 2021, there have been 11 world records set on the flat, 26.2-mile loop around Germany’s capital. The last world record was set in 2018 by Eliud Kipchoge, who clipped off 4:38 miles on his way to winning Berlin in a time of 2:01:39, shattering the previous record by one minute and 18 seconds.
After COVID-19 shut down the 2020 edition, the Berlin Marathon is back to challenge participants and excite viewers.
Ready to get up early for some viewing in the United States? Here’s how to watch this year’s Berlin Marathon.
Here’s how to watch it go down:
WHAT: The 2021 Berlin Marathon
WHY: The fastest marathoners in the world are competing on one of the fastest courses on the map—and records are in reach.
WHEN: The race starts at 3:15 a.m. EST (9:15 a.m. Berlin time) on Sunday, September 26.
WHERE TO WATCH: In the U.S., you can stream the Berlin Marathon on Peacock. To watch live and on-demand afterward, you must have a premium account, which costs $4.99 per month. Coverage starts at 3 a.m. on September 26. FloTrack will also be streaming the marathon. The service costs $29.99 monthly, or $12.49 monthly with an annual subscription. The race will also broadcast live on NBC Sports Network, with coverage beginning at 3 a.m.
Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia headlines this year’s men’s race. In 2019, he nearly broke Kipchoge’s world record with a 2:01:41 finishing time. Bekele won the 2016 men’s race as well. Expect him to chase Kipchoge’s record once again. Challengers include Ethiopian teammates Guye Adola, who placed second at the 2017 Berlin Marathon behind Kipchoge, and 22-year-old Olika Adugna, who won his 26.2 debut this past January in Dubai.
On the women’s side, Hiwot Gebrekidan of Ethopia enters with the only sub-2:20 time, owning a personal best of 2:19:35 set earlier this year at the Milano Marathon. She is followed by three women who have run under 2:21: Purity Rionoripo of Kenya, Amane Beriso of Ethiopia, and Shure Demise of Ethiopia.
With Eliud Kipchoge’s world-record race in Berlin in 2018, the course has now witnessed 11 world records.
Is Berlin the fastest marathon in the world? It certainly seems so, as 11 world records on one course is an unmatched credential.
Last year, Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) won Berlin in a blistering time of 2:01:39, a new world record by 1 minute 18 seconds. Kipchoge’s performance marked the first time anyone has broken the 2:02 barrier in the marathon; and it was one of several barrier-breaking performances seen in Berlin. The course also witnessed the first sub-2:05, 2:04, and 2:03 marathons.
Berlin has had a lock on the men’s world record since 2003, as well as hosting three break-throughs by women since 1977. Why is this such a great spot for fast times? Cool conditions, flat well-maintained roads, and carefully selected elite fields are the Berlin formula. Add in a phalanx of well-drilled pace-makers who protect and guide each aspiring record-breaker with Germanic efficiency, and you have many elements for success.
The race was founded in 1974 by a Berlin baker, Horst Milde, who combined his passion for running with a family bread and cake business that had flourished just west of the Brandenburg Gate for 300 years. His first marathon had 244 finishers, only 10 of them were women. It was won in a modest 2:44:53 on the men’s side, and 3:22:01 for the women.
Milde patiently kneaded the race like dough until it rose to become this year’s gourmet mega-dollar global-audience marathon with 44,000 sought-after starters. With Milde still a watchful presence, the race remains under the auspices of his Charlottenburg sports club, with his non-baker son Mark Milde as race director.
When Germany achieved reunification in October 1990 after 45 years of division and military occupation, the Berlin Marathon went through the previous Eastern Zone for the first time and gained a world profile as symbol of the new sense of free and open access that swept Europe.
Here, we’re looking into the stories behind the course’s 11 world records.
Christa Vahlensieck (West Germany) ran a world record 2:34:47 at Berlin at a time when female runners were beginning to discover the new opportunity of the marathon, building the pressure that led to its inclusion for the 1984 Olympics. Vahlensieck was a protegée of Dr. Ernst Van Aaken, a visionary advocate for the health benefits of exercise and the endurance abilities of women.
For three years the world record had been swapped between Vahlensieck, France’s Chantal Langlacé and USA’s Jacqueline Hansen. When Vahlensieck took back the record on German soil, it was consolation for Van Aaken, who had lost both legs in an automobile accident.
ADAM DAVY – EMPICS GETTY IMAGES
Ronaldo da Costa, a Brazilian, youngest of a poor family of 11, had only rarely competed outside his home country. At the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, he finished a modest 16th in the 10,000 meters. In his first visit to Berlin in 1997, he placed fifth (2:09:07), but the next year he astonishingly improved by three minutes and broke a world record that had stood for 10 years. Da Costa is the only South American, male or female, to hold the world marathon record. He became a national hero.
The world began to look for the first women’s sub-2:20 marathon after Joan Benoit Samuelson slashed the world best mark down to 2:22:43 at Boston in 1983. But the barrier eluded the first generation of great Africans, even Fatuma Roba (Ethiopia), first African woman to win the Olympic marathon in 1996, and Tegla Loroupe (Kenya), first to win a big-city marathon, New York in 1994. Berlin wanted the sub-2:20 notch on its belt, and Loroupe came close there with 2:20:43 in 1999. After almost 20 years, sub-2:20 began to look like the four-minute mile before Roger Bannister.
Kenenisa Bekele is still the only elite runner confirmed for the BMW Berlin Marathon which will be the first of two marathons in 42 days for the Ethiopian runner, who is also scheduled to race the TCS New York City Marathon on November 7, a grueling double that will mark Bekele’s first races since March 2020.
A look at the list of favourites shows quite clearly how much the world’s elite is also waiting for top notch races. None other than the running legend Bekele who will aim for victory on September 26. At the 2019 Berlin-Marathon, he clearly demonstrated with his time of 2:01:41 hours that he is always a force to be reckoned with.
“I will come back with good energy and motivation to Berlin-Marathon. The last race in Berlin motivated me a lot, so I hope I will fulfil my plan this year.” said Bekele. So, in many ways, the BMW Berlin-Marathon 2021 will be an event with historic sporting significance.
Bekele is a four-time Olympic medallist and 16-time world champion who will make his debut at the New York City Marathon on November 7 in the men’s open division. At the Athens 2004 Games, he won gold in the 10,000m and silver in the 5000m, and four years later in Beijing took gold in both distances. He won the 2019 Berlin Marathon in the second-fastest time ever, only two seconds off the world record time set by Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin the year prior.
“I am proud of the many accomplishments in my career, but I have never had the opportunity to compete in the TCS New York City Marathon,” Bekele said. “I am excited that 2021 will be the year for me to make my attempt in New York. Some of my greatest success has come in cross-country running, and I am told that the hills and turns of New York reward athletes with the strength that comes from running cross-country. I will do my best to join that great list of New York City champions.”
World record holder in both the 5000m and 10000m, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia will be targeting to lower the marathon world record at the 48th edition of the BMW Berlin-Marathon that will be held on 26th September in Berlin, Germany.
Bekele will target to lower his time as he clearly demonstrated it when he took the top honors at the 2019 Berlin marathon when he crossed the line with the second fastest time of 2:01.41.
This is underlined not only by his victories at the Berlin-Marathon in 2016 and 2019, but also by his captivating performances at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in the capital city on the Spree River. At the races in the Olympic Stadium, Bekele won World Championship gold in the 10,000 m for the fourth time in a row and took the World Championship title in the 5,000 m a week later.
“I will come back with good energy and motivation to Berlin-Marathon. The last race in Berlin motivated me a lot, so I hope I will fulfil my plan this year.” So, in many ways, the Berlin-Marathon 2021 will be an event with historic sporting significance,” Bekele said.
The 39-year-old will try to match or lower the time of his only rival the greatest athlete of all time Eliud Kipchoge, who ran 2:01.39 in 2018 and ranks above him in the world all-time list. Bekele knows all too well what it is like to miss the world record by a narrow margin.
In 2016, he won in 2:03.03 which was just six seconds outside the then world record. There are also historical precedents for such narrow misses in marathon history: in 1985 the Welshman Steve Jones ran within one second of the world record in Chicago.
The 2019 podium clean swept by Ethiopians as Birhanu Legese, crossed the line in second in 2:02.48 to become the third fastest marathoner in history. Third place went to Sisay Lemma, running a personal best of 2:03.36.
Defending champion Geoffrey Kamworor leads a host of stars to next month’s New York Marathon.
Kamworor, who is the three-time World Half Marathon champion, will face stiff competition from several of his compatriots in the 42km race during the ‘Big Apple’ race.
Kamworor clocked 2:10:53 to win the event last year.
The defending champion will be up against former winner and world record holder Wilson Kipsang, who competed at last month’s Berlin Marathon, finishing third in 2:06:48.
The 2017 London Marathon champion, Daniel Wanjiru, will also be in the mix.
Wanjiru has a personal best of 2:05:21 set at the Amsterdam Marathon two years ago and will fancy his chances of performing well at the event.
Former New York City Marathon champion Stanley Biwott will also be seeking to reclaim the crown he won in 2015 in 2:10:34 while Stephen Sambu, who clinched the New York City Half Marathon in 2016 in 1:01:16, has also been entered.
In the women’s category, two- time world marathon champion Edna Kiplagat, who finished fourth at the Berlin three weeks ago in 2:21:18, aims to unseat last year’s champion Sharlene Flanagan of the USA.
London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot will also be seeking to win her second marathon crown after her exploit in the British capital in April.
Mary Keitany will be chasing her fourth New York City Marathon crown after victories in 2014-2016.
Keitany is one the country’s most decorated marathoners with wins in other big city marathons including London, where she has won three times (2011, 2012 and 2016).
US-based Sally Kipyego made her marathon debut in 2016 in New York, finishing second to Keitany in 2:28.01 and will be aiming to go one place better.
I know. I was stunned, too. Eliud Kipchoge did what? He ran the Berlin marathon in 2 hours 1 min 39 seconds? How is that even possible?
I mean in an athletics world where records tend to be broken by hundredths of a second, if at all – and occasionally a second or two for the longer distances – the Kenyan took 1 minute 18 seconds off the old mark.
The feat, of course, begs the question. Might it be possible, after all, for a human to run the marathon in under two hours? If so, the superbly configured Kipchoge – he appears to be mostly legs, topped by a massive set of heart and lungs, and an always grinning countenance – is humanity’s best hope to get there. If he can it would be a combination of the four-minute mile meets the moon landing – an iconic “impossible” record broken, if everything falls into place.
For it was Kipchoge who, in a promo for Nike last year, got close to the barrier in artificial conditions which included having runners subbing in and out of the race to pace him on a flat oval track and people on mopeds passing on high energy drinks. On that occasion, he did it in just 25 seconds over two hours.
“It is not rocket science to break this barrier,” he said at the time. “You simply have to believe in it. And you need a great team that believes in it and in you, the perfect shoes, and to be stronger than any runner before. Then everything is possible.”
(I know, I suspect that line owes more to the Nike marketing department than him, but can’t resist including it anyway, because of the rocket science/ moon landing angle and, more importantly, because it will give the vicious critics of Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign the absolute irrits – but that’s just a bonus!)
But could he get below two hours in a normal marathon? Dr Michael Joyner of Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic wrote a paper 27 years ago suggesting that it was theoretically possible for a man to run the marathon in one hour 58 minutes and so has taken huge interest in Kipchoge’s latest feat.
“[Breaking the two-hour barrier] is now a significant step closer,” Dr Joyner told The Guardian on Monday. “We might see something like a Tiger Woods effect – when he arrived on the golfing scene he was a quantum leap forward, yet eventually there was a catch-up.”
Exactly. For what it’s worth, this is the angle that particularly interests me.
See, about 64 years ago, our own John Landy was in Finland’s former capital of Turku, preparing for a race when a local asked him had he heard the news? “No. What news?” John replied. “Roger Bannister has broken the four-minute mile. He’s done three minutes 59.4 seconds.”
Landy was stunned. “I was amazed, really,” he told me when I interviewed him a couple of decades ago. “I just couldn’t quite believe that Bannister had managed to lop as much as two seconds off the record in just the one race … Back then the four-minute mile was almost like a barrier, a limit, which we thought exceedingly difficult to break. If the record of four minutes, one second was going to be lowered, we thought it would only go down by a 10th of a second or so at a time.”
But Bannister’s feat changed everything. “A lot of people seem to think I must have been devastated that Bannister had broken the four-minute barrier before me, but I wasn’t. I was just astonished that he’d lopped so much off the previous record, and I guess … because I thought I was just as good a runner as he was … it gave me a bit of a hurry-up to run a time like that myself, it made me think I really had better pull something out of the hat.”
At his next race, therefore, which was in Turku just a few weeks later, Landy ran like the wind, and when he crossed the tape, lots of excited Finnish officials and athletes were crowding around him, yelling, laughing, clapping him on the back. They kept saying something: Ricodda? Ricoad? Ricod?Record? Record. The world record to be precise. And the new … heavyweight champeen of the mile distance race … in a time of three minutes 57.9 seconds … John … LANDY. You get the drift.
Having thought only a few weeks earlier that the four-minute mile could only be approached a tenth of a second at a time, Landy had not only smashed the barrier himself but also taken nearly two seconds off Bannister’s time. He’d always been capable of it – it was just that the Bannister feat had liberated his mind, as to the possibilities. And it liberated other runners, too, with the four-minute mile soon being regularly broken by other runners who’d long thought it impossible.
Will we see the same with Kipchoge, and his fellow runners? The Kenyan has now demonstrated that it is possible to get at least close to that barrier. As he is 33 years old, our own Robert de Castella who himself held the record three decades ago at 2 hours, 8 minutes and 18 seconds says he’ll have to get the job done in the next couple of years. But surely, if not Kipchoge himself, then one of the next generation of runners will crack it …
On the day that it happens, it will surely be bitter-sweet. After all, with Everest now conquerable to even moderate mountaineers, and with the four-minute mile a mere good training run for the best athletes, the two-hour marathon is one of the last mythical sporting feats left standing. If it does go, what is left?
All I can think of is that one day, far in the future, the NRL might be able to get through Mad Monday without atrocities breaking out and … And you’re right. I take it back. That really is impossible.
Kipchoge attained in blistering pace clinching the Berlin Marathon title in 2:01.39. His previous best of 2:03.05 had been attained in 2016 in winning the London marathon.
He made two attempts on the world record of compatriot Dennis Kimetto in 2015 and 2017, but missed out owing to poor weather.
However, that wait was worth as he shaved off one minute and 18 seconds off the world mark to write his name in the history book as the first man to run under two hours and two minutes.
“I watched the race for sure he made it look so easy unlike those before him who broke the record on the same course,” said Makau, who reclaimed the world mark from Haile Gebreselassie with a time of 2:03.38 back in 2013.
“Kipchoge has put it too far. Anyone targeting that mark will know it will be a hard shot. It will take years before someone does it. I am happy for him because he has been persistent since 2012,” added Makau.
Makau, 33, who has been forced to retire because of a tendon and knee injuries saw his mark broken by Wilson Kipsang in 2013 clocking an impressive 2:03.23, but again that went even further down with Kimetto arriving on the scene a year later to take the record to 2:02.57.
In all cases, the elite runners were breaking off seconds off the main mark, but for Kipchoge to slash off 78 seconds, it shows his position as the greatest ever to grace the race.
Kenya’s Paul Tergat was the last man to take such a huge step when he broke Khalid Khannouchi’s 2:05.38 record in Berlin in 2003 with a time of to 2:04:26.
It was also the largest single improvement on the marathon world record since Derek Clayton improved the mark by 2:23 in 1967.
Meanwhile, celebrations continued in Kenya for the iconic performance with calls for the Kenyan government to honor and reward their star athlete.
Makau has run in over 20 marathons, finishing at least 11 of them ever since his debut in Rotterdam in 2008.