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Nothing signals the start of fall like the BMW Berlin Marathon and today’s race should be a barnburner as the greatest runner of all time Kenenisa Bekele, the greatest marathoner of all time, Eliud Kipchoge, and the former world record holder in the marathon, Wilson Kipsang, will square off.
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 2:04:26 in 2007, Haile 2:03:59 in 2008, Makau 2:03:38 in 2011, 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 Kenenisa-Kipsang rematch in Berlin with side act Makau would be interesting in his own right, but throw in the world’s greatest marathoner Kipchoge and it becomes a sporting spectacle.
Olympic triple gold medallist Kenenisa 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.
Kenenisa’s performance last year in Berlin cemented his status as the Greatest of All-Time. If he could somehow turn the tables on Kipchoge today, we’ll have to come up with a new level of Greatest of All-Time. The pressure appears to be squarely on Kipchoge for he is much expected to win and break the world record.