September 18, 2017
Nothing signals the start of fall like the BMW Berlin Marathon and Sunday’s race should be a barnburner as the greatest marathoner of all time, Eliud Kipchoge, the greatest runner of all time, Kenenisa Bekele, and the former world record holder in the marathon, Wilson Kipsang, will square off.
Kipchoge vs. Bekele vs. Kipsang vs. the world record. Plus former world record holder Patrick Makau and 2007 world champ Luke Kibet).
It doesn’t get much better than that. We’ll have an extensive preview later this week but just wanted to whet your appetite a bit and start to build the anticipation. We’re writing this article so you’ll get excited.
Berlin Is About the World Record
Anytime the men’s marathon world record has been broken the last 15 years, it has been on the streets of Berlin (Paul Tergat 2:04:55 in 2003, Haile Gebrselassie 2:04:26 in 2007, Gebrselassie 2:03:59 in 2008, Patrick Makau 2:03:38 in 2011, Wilson Kipsang 2:03:23 in 2013 and Dennis Kimetto’s current world record of 2:02:57 in 2014). The world record will most definitely be the goal on Sunday.
Last year on the streets of Berlin, a supposedly past-his-prime Bekele raced a supposedly past-his-prime Kipsang, and it resulted in one of the most compelling races in marathon history as Bekele came from behind to outduel Kipsang and win in 2:03:03, just ahead of Kipsang’s 2:03:13. This was after they went out in an unheard of 1:01:11 — the fastest halfway split ever in a marathon.
A Bekele-Kipsang rematch in Berlin with side act Patrick Makau would be interesting in its own right, but throw in the world’s greatest marathoner in Eliud Kipchoge and it becomes a sporting spectacle.
Kipchoge, literally and figuratively, has done what no one else has done in the marathon. Not only has he run 2:00:25 for the marathon distance, two and a half minutes faster than anyone else, he has run eight non-exhibition marathons, winning seven of them, including the Olympics, and run 2:05:00 or faster six times. His fastest official marathon is the 2:03:05 he ran in London last year on a course that is historically much slower than Berlin.
How fast can Kipchoge go? Will he even win the race? Those are the things we’ll be looking at later in this week.
For now, let’s just relish the fact three of the titans of the sport will be racing on one of its grandest stages.
Bekele and Kipchoge first raced on a big global stage an amazing 14 years ago at the World Championships in the 5000m when Kipchoge outkicked not only Bekele but also Hicham El Guerrouj for the win.
Bekele gained revenge by defeating Kipchoge at the Olympics the following year and would never again lose to Kipchoge in a global championship. But since turning to the marathon, Kipchoge has been virtually unstoppable and that includes beating Bekele twice with ease (by 1:40 in Chicago in 2014 and by 3:31 in London in 2016).
Bekele’s performance last year in Berlin cemented his status as the Greatest of All-Time (GOAT) with the LetsRun.com crew. If he could somehow turn the tables on Kipchoge this year, we’ll have to come up with a new level of GOAT.
The pressure is squarely on Kipchoge. He’s expected to win and break the world record and he knows it.
“With the three of us I think I am the only one under pressure heading to the race in Berlin. If the two of them have 40 percent pressure, then I have 95 percent because of the time I ran in Monza and the Olympic gold as well. I have a lot of pressure,” he told CapitalFM.
Kipchoge, Bekele, and Kipsang have all been pretty good at handling pressure in the past. If they handle it on Sunday you’d better be waking up early in the States to witness it. Okay, since the race begins at 3:15 a.m. Eastern Time, we’ll forgive you if you want to sleep in. But you better set your DVR to record the broadcast on NBCSN because people could be talking about this marathon for a long, long time.
Discuss Berlin here: Berlin is this weekend. We can officially start the “Expect Great Things” thread! –
- More from LRC Archives: The King is Back – Kenenisa Bekele Runs 2:03:03 to Defeat Wilson Kipsang in a Race for the Ages at BMW Berlin Marathon
- A Day With Olympic Marathon Champion Eliud Kipchoge, Part I: A Tuesday Morning Track Workout
- A Day with Olympic Marathon Champion Eliud Kipchoge, Part II: A Look at Kipchoge’s Spartan Training Camp & Why He Is Part of Nike’s Breaking2 Attempt