A hotel owned by former World record holder Wilson Kipsang will host hundreds of fans who will be able to follow Sunday’s potentially record-breaking BMW Berlin Marathon live as the Bank of Africa’s World Marathon Majors viewing party shifts to Iten.
Bank of Africa has arranged an athletes’ seminar and viewing of the Berlin race at the Kipsang owned Keellu Resort with the first 300 athletes enjoying free breakfast from 7:00am.
Sunday’s Iten viewing, which is in its fifth year running, will provide budding and seasoned athletes an opportunity to receive financial advice, information on taxation, media training and professional advice on anti-doping for free.
“The viewing events not only bring together family, friends and relatives to watch the showdown live on a more enhanced television screen but have also been key in promoting financial literacy among these athletic communities,” said Bank of Africa’s head of marketing, Jimmi Wanjohi.
The Iten “viewerthon” will not just be about watching the race as, besides presentations by Bank of Africa, the Kenya Revenue Authority and the Anti-Doping Agency, who are other partners in the series, will also offer relevant advice to stakeholders.
Bank of Africa’s partners include LG Electronics who will showcase their products and services during the viewing party as focus shifts to Germany for the BMW Berlin Marathon with the main attention being on whether two of world’s greatest athletes will set a new world record.
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, 33, a strong contender to become the first athlete to complete a marathon in under two hours, and former world record holder Wilson Kipsang, 36, who set his world record time of 2:03:23 in 2013 on the same course, are the talk of town in the German capital.
Compatriot Dennis Kimetto, 24, currently holds the world record at a time of 2:02:57 having broken Wilfred Kipsang’s record in 2014, also in Berlin, by eight seconds.
Gladys Cherono and Edna Kiplagat will lead Kenya’s female line up at this year’s edition of the Berlin race.
Like Kipchoge, Cherono, 35, won last year’s edition at a time of 2:20:23 while Edna Kiplagat, 38, world marathon champion in 2011 and 2013, will be featuring for the first time in Berlin.
LG Electronics will also organise customer service sessions for their clients in Iten and Eldoret on the marathon weekend from today to Sunday.
In addition to sponsoring the marathon viewing parties, BOA offers a distinctive package for sportsmen and women through its ‘Mwanariadha Account’ whose features and benefits further contribute to their financial goals as athletes.
“Apart from the relation to the ‘Mwanariadha’ account, we see a need to interact with the people on the ground during the viewing parties,” Wanjohi said.
The BOA “Viewerthons” are a series of events where the bank invites elite and upcoming athletes along with the local community to follow the World Marathon Majors races from Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York while being taken through education programmes.
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 Kimettoat the 2014 Berlin Marathon.
“Eliud is going there to run for a world record,” countryman and pacer Sammy Kitwarasaid, 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.
Eliud Kipchoge is set to return to the BMW Berlin Marathon on September 16 and has a PB performance in his sights.
The Olympic champion’s best on a record-eligible course is his 2:03:05 recorded when winning the 2016 Virgin Money London Marathon.
That mark was just eight seconds off his fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto’s world record run in Berlin in 2014, though Kipchoge has of course already dipped well under that with his famous 2:00:25 from the non record-eligible Nike Breaking2 attempt in May last year.
“My preparation is entirely concentrated on the BMW Berlin Marathon on September 16,” said the 33-year-old, who is already a two-time winner in Berlin.
“I am confident I can beat my personal best on this fast course if conditions are good.”
Among those due to join him in the field are Kenya’s former world marathon record-holder Wilson Kipsang and world half-marathon record-holder Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea.
Kipchoge and Kipsang – who ran 2:03:23 in 2013 in Berlin – lined up last year with the target of breaking 2:03 as a key objective but such hopes were dashed by steady rain throughout.
Kipchoge won in difficult conditions in 2:03:32, while Kipsang dropped out.
The payment of all prize money is dependent upon athletes undergoing and clearing the usual anti-doping procedures.
Previews of both the men’s and women’s races are now published. The statistical reference, ‘IAAF/Trinidad Alfonso World Half Marathon Championships Valencia 2018’, compiled by noted statistician Mark Butler, is also available (download | read).
Saturday 24 March (times are local, GMT+1)
Women’s race: 17:05
Men’s race: 17:30
In the latest of our series focusing on IAAF World Half Marathon champions the spotlight falls on the man who is seeking a hat-trick of titles in Valencia (Mar 24), Kenyan star Geoffrey Kamworor.
If Geoffrey Kamworor could loosely be described as an “accidental” world half marathon champion in 2014 – more of which later – it was a nasty “accident” at the start of his successful title defence which provided the high drama two years later in Cardiff.
The long-legged Kenyan has, arguably, proved the most versatile distance runner of his generation. Besides his twin success at the biennial World Half Marathon Championships he has also scooped back-to-back World Cross Country titles, claimed 2015 world silver on the track over 10,000m and proved a formidable competitor over 42.2km as evidenced by his victory in November’s New York City Marathon.
Back in early 2014 Kamworor was fully focused on a strong showing in February’s Tokyo Marathon. Yet after stuttering to sixth in 2:07:37 he sought a fresh challenge and suddenly turned his attention to the World Half Marathon Championships just five weeks later in Copenhagen.
“To run the world half was never a part of the plan but I was not pleased with the position (in Tokyo) so that is when I looked to focus on world half,” he explains.
“After the marathon I rested for a few days and then when I returned to training I made sure the sessions were nice and easy.”
Having run a blistering 58:54 to win the RAK Half Marathon the previous year and boasting a record of four wins and two seconds from his seven previous competitive outings over the 21.1km distance he was clearly a class-act, although the burden of favouritism in the Danish capital fell on the shoulders of Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, the five-time world champion over the distance.
‘I ALWAYS BELIEVE IN MYSELF’
Not that Kamworor was overawed by the formidable presence of the world half marathon record holder.
“I had run 58 minutes for the half-marathon the previous year, I always believe in myself. I was focused and wanted to win,” he says of his pre-race expectations in Copenhagen.
Geoffrey Kipsang Kamworor, winner of the 2014 world half marathon title in Copenhagen (Getty ImagesOn a bright spring day Kamworor took to the front after 12 kilometres, where he led a six-strong lead group containing two Kenyans, an Ethiopian and three Eritreans including Tadese.
However, by the 15-kilometre point, and thanks to a strong Kamworor surge, the lead pack had halved in size with Samuel Tsegay of Eritrea and Ethiopia’s Guye Adola the only two men in contention as Tadese dropped off the pace.
Relentlessly pushing the pace, Kamworor opened daylight on the field in the final two kilometres and could not be stopped.
“I remember dropping the rest of the field,” he recalls. “I couldn’t believe this at first, but I had to remain focused.”
He crossed the line in 59:08 –13 seconds clear of Tsegay, who edged the bronze in a tight battle with Adola with Tadese fourth– to land a maiden world senior title in what proved a huge breakthrough moment for the gregarious Kenyan.
“It really meant a lot to me as it opened so many doors in my career and motivated me to win more,” he explains. “For me, it was amazing and it made me believe anything was possible.”
QUICK RECOVERY FROM A TUMBLE AT THE START IN CARDIFF
If Tadese had been Kamworor’s main rival in 2014, it was British endurance star Mo Farah who many assumed would most likely threaten the Kenya’s grip on the title in Cardiff two years later.
Farah certainly had the passionate home support behind him in the Welsh capital but Kamworor in the intervening two years had further established himself as a consistent world-class operator by adding the World Cross Country crown to his growing CV and silver behind Farah over 10,000m at the World Championships in Beijing.
Yet the Kenyan’s bid to become the third man in history to win back-to-back World Half Marathon titles was almost over before it started after he lost his footing and slipped in the narrow starting funnel -which had become slick with the descending rain – just seconds into the race.
“It was a really bad experience for me,” he recalls. “I slipped and stayed down on the ground for about 15 seconds. I had a big crowd of athletes coming from behind and pushing me.”
Geoffrey Kamworor and Bedan Karoki at the end of the men’s race at the IAAF/Cardiff University World Half Marathon Championships Cardiff 2016. Photo: Getty ImagesHis knees badly scraped, he did, however, maintain his cool. He had lost significant ground on the leaders but within five minutes of running had found his way to the lead group.
“Once I reached the (lead) group I forgot that I had fallen down and I just focused on the race,” he explains.
With the race played out in heavy rain which worsened as the race progressed alongside buffeting winds, Kamworor sensibly adopted a pragmatic approach to the miserable weather conditions he faced that day.
“We all had to run in it, I had no option,” he says.
Significantly, Farah started drifting off the back of the lead group at 10km and by 15km – covered in a swift 41:41 – it was Kamworor running alongside his compatriot Bedan Karoki, who were locked in a two-way battle for gold as the pair worked together as part of a pre-arranged team tactic to set a blistering pace in an effort to break the field.
The duo were away and clear and it was the defending champion who launched his winning move with 2km remaining. Quickly opening up a decisive advantage he stopped the clock in 59:10 – 26 seconds clear of Karoki with Farah claiming bronze.
Taking into account Kamworor’s heavy fall coupled with the ghastly weather conditions to finish in a time just two seconds shy of what he achieved in Copenhagen two years earlier showed what he would have been capable of in more favourable circumstances.
“It was difficult for me to win after falling down, but I had to believe,” he recalls. “It was great to win the title again.”
Boasting an imposing half-marathon record of eight wins and three second places from 12 international races over the distance, the Kenyan will be the man to beat as he seeks a hat-trick of titles in Valencia later this month.
Yet the man who is coached by Patrick Sang, the former World and Olympic steeplechase silver medallist, has a simple theory as to what qualities make a good half-marathoner.
“For me it is that mix of endurance which I get from the long 40-k training sessions (training for the marathon), the speed and strength from running cross country and the pure speed from the track.”
It is a simple combination which has so far proved devastatingly effective.