Eliud Kipchoge will race the Berlin Marathon for a fifth time on Sept. 25, returning to the German capital event for the first time since he broke the world record there in 2018.
“Berlin is the fastest course, it’s where a human being can showcase its potential to push the limits,” he said in a press release.
Kipchoge has the greatest marathon record of any man, winning 14 of his 16 starts and becoming the first and so far only person to run 26.2 miles in under two hours (doing so in a non-record-eligible event).
Kipchoge, 37, chose Berlin over London, his other usual marathon, and the other fall major marathons, Chicago (which he raced once in 2014) and New York City (which he has never raced).
London, usually in April, will be held in the fall for a third consecutive year due to the pandemic before returning to its spring date in 2023.
Kipchoge called it a “really hard” decision to go with Berlin over the others, speaking in a virtual press conference from training in Kaptagat in his native Kenya.
Kipchoge has said that he hopes to run all of the World Marathon Majors, which would require making his debuts in Boston, which is contested every April, and New York City, which is in November.
So far, Kipchoge has primarily run London every April and Berlin every September, never doing more than two marathons in a year.
He said Friday that Boston and New York City remain targets, and when asked specifically about Boston, said it was on his bucket list.
Kipchoge is expected to race the 2024 Paris Olympics, where he could become the first marathoner to win three gold medals (or three medals of any color).
He has never raced a fall marathon in an Olympic year, so if he doesn’t race New York City in 2023, he may not do so until, at the earliest, 2025, when he will be three days she of turning 41 years old.
Kipchoge said Friday he may continue racing after the 2024 Olympics and into his 40s. He plans to focus on major city marathons rather than specialty races, such as his 2017 and 2019 attempts to break two hours for a marathon in non-record-eligible events.
He ran 2:00:25 on a Formula One track in Italy in 2017 and 1:59:40 in Vienna in 2019.
In Berlin, he has three victories and a runner-up. In 2018, he broke countryman Dennis Kimetto‘s world record, lowering it from 2:02:57 to 2:01.39. The next year, Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele won Berlin in 2:01:41 with Kipchoge not in the field.
Kipchoge and Bekele, 40, have not gone head-to-head since then. Bekele, who hasn’t broken 2:06 since Berlin 2019, signed up for London on Oct. 2.
The other headliner in Berlin is defending champion Guye Adolaof Ethiopia.
In 2017 in Berlin, an unknown Adola came out of nowhere to finish 14 seconds behind Kipchoge in the then-fastest-ever marathon debut on a record-eligible course, sticking with Kipchoge until the last mile. Adola didn’t know he was running until four days before the race and wasn’t meant to start with the elite group.
Adola said he hopes to break 2:03 this year.