Distance running legend Kenenisa Bekele and Kenyan long distance star Florence Kiplagat have been signed up to compete in the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K on Sunday 17 December. It will be the first race ever in India for Kenenisa, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and 18-time world champion on the track and cross country, and the first time he has ever raced over the distance.
The big question that will inevitably accompany the announcement of Kenenisa’s presence in the race will be: can he challenge the world record of 1:11:18, set by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto in 2012? Kenenisa’s 25km best is 1:12:47, an intermediate time when he ran in the Berlin Marathon last year, which he went on to win in 2:03:03 and go second on the all-time list for the classic distance.
Motivating Kenenisa in Kolkata will also be the fact that he failed to finish on his return to the German capital for this year’s marathon two months ago, his last race, and he will be out to prove he is back to his best.
The course goes along the historic Red Road that runs through the heart of Kolkata, as well as many other familiar sights of the city including Victoria Memorial and the Eden Gardens. The long-range weather forecast suggests the temperatures should be around 12 degrees Celsius on the morning of the race.
With the race celebrating its fourth edition this year, the course record for the TSK25K stands at 1:17:16, the world renowned Kenisa is expected to set a new record. The Ethiopian national record and former 25km world record is 1:11:37, held by the equally legendary Haile Gebrselassie.