Berlin Press Release: Keen Anticipation for Duel between Wilson Kipsang and Kenenisa Bekele
Berlin Marathon Press Release
September 23, 2016
The former world record holder Wilson Kipsang versus the fastest man ever at 5 and 10,000m, Kenenisa Bekele – that is the grand showdown for the 43rd edition of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON on Sunday. Kipsang of Kenya arrives in town having broken the world record here with 2:03:23 in 2013. Ethiopia’s superstar Bekele has won three Olympic long distance titles and is one of the best runners of all time. Alongside this pair are seven other athletes who have run 2:06 or faster.
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Maintaining Berlin’s traditional popularity among both elite and mass runners, 41,283 runners from 122 countries have entered the 43rd edition of the race which begins at 0915 on the avenue of June 17. The BMW BERLIN-MARATHON is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors and an IAAF Gold Label Race, the highest category of road race awarded by the world governing body of athletics.
“I’ve trained well and, three years down the line from my world record here, I feel good and believe I have the potential to attempt the world record once more. Running at the top level, there is a lot of wear and tear on the body, especially when you are running for a time, but I am very focused on the world record,” said Wilson Kipsang, who will be making his second appearance in the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. „My race here in 2013 has been the best of my career, of course and I have great memories of it.“ Kipsang went on to have an outstanding 2014, winning first in London and then New York, but is without a marathon win since.
Kenenisa Bekele is, in the opinion of many, the best track and cross country runner of all time. He has won three Olympic titles and five World Championships’ golds and is the world record holder over 5 and 10,000m, set 12 and 11 years ago respectively. But in the marathon Bekele has still to fulfil his potential. He won in Paris on his debut at the distance in 2014, setting a course record of 2:05:04 yet has been unable to improve on that time, suffering lengthy periods of injury with achilles tendon problems. “Since finishing third in London in April after being injured for so long, I have been training well, better than before. I consider my personal best of 2:05 to be slow compared to the best runners. I want to run as fast as I can on Sunday and beat my best,” said Kenenisa Bekele.
It is far from a foregone conclusion that the winner of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON will be either be Kipsang or Bekele. The fastest man in the field is Emmanuel Mutai, the Kenyan who ran 2:03:13 in Berlin in 2014 and was beaten only by his compatriot Dennis Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57. Mutai has not reached such heights since then so Berlin marks an attempt to regain such form. “My training has remained the same as in previous years and I know that very fast times are possible in Berlin,” said Emmanuel Mutai. Another man to watch is the 21-year-old Tsegaye Mekonnen. The Ethiopian won his debut at the distance in Dubai in 2014, setting a world class time of 2:04:32 which was also a world junior record.
Among the nine runners with best times under 2:06 is Mark Kiptoo. The Kenyan has a strong chance of making history in becoming the fastest 40-year-old ever in the marathon. The current mark, stands at 2:08:38. Kiptoo has the recent pedigree to break the record, given that his best performances in recent years are 2:06:16 (2013), 2:06:49 (2014) and 2:06:00 (2015).
Leading Contenders for the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON
Emmanuel Mutai KEN 2:03:13
Wilson Kipsang KEN 2:03:23
Tsegaye Mekonnen ETH 2:04:32
Kenenisa Bekele ETH 2:05:04
Vincent Kipruto KEN 2:05:13
Sisay Lemma ETH 2:05:16
Eliud Kiptanui KEN 2:05:21
Evans Chebet KEN 2:05:33
Mark Kiptoo KEN 2:06:00
Alfers Lagat KEN 2:06:58
Jacob Kendagor KEN 2:07:47
Yuki Kawauchi JPN 2:08:14
Steffen Uliczka GER 2:20:19
New: Wheelchair Series in its debut Abbot WMM season
An innovation this year is the introduction of the Wheelchair series in the Abbott World Marathon Majors (Abbott WMM) which follows the same format as that for runners. The athletes win points from their finishing positions in the six Abbott WMM events as well – depending on the year – from the IPC World Championships and the Paralympic Games. The series made its debut on April 18, 2016 at the Boston Marathon and will end there in 2017. The male and female winners for the series will each earn $50,000. More information about the scoring system is given in the Media Guide. The athlete who has dominated the wheelchair races so far in the AWMM races is Marcel Hug of Switzerland, emerging unbeaten so far with wins in Boston, London and the Paralympics in Rio. Hug is also the favourite in Berlin on Sunday, to no great surprise. Another expected to be vying for a podium place are the South African Ernst van Dyk while Hug’s compatriot Heinz Frei will be competing, 20 years after his first Berlin win. Swiss athletes will also be among the top contenders in the women’s race with Manuela Schär and Sandra Graf in the field. Both have shown how to win in Berlin, Graf taking the title three times while Schär was the 2013 champion.
New: Entertainment before the Start and Internet Streams
An innovation this year is Sunday’s entertainment programme for participants and spectators in the grandstand before the start. Seven giant video screens will show live pictures from 0715 ranging including stories about the marathon’s history, important pre-race information and all the emotions that go with Germany’s biggest marathon. A live stream (Second Screen) shows the mass runners on the course from midday on www.bmw-berlin-marathon.com. This stream continues on a tape loop on the website after the coverage is finished. “Almost Live” clips on Facebook during the marathon show brief highlights of the race both from the elite as well as the mass field.
A live stream showing the fun runners will be available from 12 noon onwards on Sunday at www.bmw-berlin-marathon.com. This stream will be kept available on the website with no time limit. Additionally video clips will be available via Facebook. They will also show the elite races.