Wilson Kipsang will be in Berlin once again this Sunday as he seeks to reclaim the world record he held after running 2:03.23 in 2013, bettering the time previously set by Kenyan compatriot Patrick Makau by five seconds.
At the same time the 36-year-old Kipsang, who is based in Iten, Kenya, will be renewing his rivalry with Eliud Kipchoge once more. Their most recent meeting took place on the same course a year ago where Kipchoge emerged the winner of the race in 2:03:32 while Kipsang dropped out at the 30-kilometre mark due to a stomach problem.
Fully aware of the opposition that awaits him in reigning Olympic Champion Kipchoge, Kipsang is diplomatic about his chances of winning a second Berlin Marathon title.
“I am feeling very good. Training is going well and I’m looking forward to run good again in Berlin,” Kipsang says in an exclusive interview with KweséESPN. “For sure with Eliud in the field it will be a difficult race. But I will be ready.”
With the 2017 edition of the race affected by rain and humidity which derailed most of the contenders from their quest on the streets of Germany’s capital, this time around the weather conditions are predicted to be sunny with intervals of clouds and sunshine.
Those conditions should favour the elite men, which apart from Kipsang and Kipchoge includes fellow Kenyans Eliud Kiptanui and Amos Kipruto as well as Ethiopia’s Abera Kuma. Kipsang confirmed that these factors have to align with each other especially on a fast course like Berlin: “If you go to Berlin, you want to go fast.”
“So the world record is on my mind. But let us wait and see how the weather will be and how the race will unfold,” he added
The towering marathoner, comes into the event on the backdrop of winning Tokushima Marathon in March this year, a month after he was forced to abandon Tokyo Marathon 15 kilometres in due to illness.
Kipsang also believes that last year’s New York City Marathon, which saw two-time world half-marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor beat him in a sprint finish, shows that he still has the requisite pace to threaten the record books.
“This year in Tokyo I was sick, things like that can happen. Last year after Berlin, New York Marathon was happy to give me a second chance and I was happy to take second position there.”
As he approaches his sunset years in the sport, he was coy about his future after Berlin.
“I do not know yet what is next after this race. After Berlin, we, together with management, will make plans for the rest of this year and early 2019,” he concluded
Kipsang has won four World Marathon Majors titles, London (2012 and 2014), Berlin (2013), New York City (2014) and Tokyo (2017).
He also boasts of being the only man to run sub 2:04 four times and apart from him, three other Kenyans in Paul Tergat (2003), Patrick Makau (2011) and Dennis Kimetto (2014) have broken the world record on the Berlin Marathon course.
As such, Sunday’s race will provide the Kenyan with another chance to join Haile Gebrselassie in the exclusive club of shattering the barrier twice… and it doesn’t come more iconic than with the Brandenburg Gate looming in the background.