Since 2003, the men’s world marathon record has fallen six times. In each instance, the record fell at the exact same place, the Berlin Marathon, which will hold its 43rd edition this Sunday. The streak started with Kenyan Paul Tergat’s 2:04.55 and continued through to Dennis Kimetto’s astonishing 2:02.50 in 2014, the current record. The women’s record has also been set in Berlin on three different occasions. Japan’s Naoko Takahashi was the first to take the women’s record under 2:20 with a 2:19.46 in 2001.
It makes sense. Berlin is a notoriously fast course, flat throughout. As the first World Marathon Major of the fall leading into Chicago and New York, Berlin not only invites the world’s best, but typically offers them cool conditions as well.
Alan Brookes, Race Director at Canada Running Series, says the excitement around Berlin is always palpable and that, “This year will be no exception, especially in the men’s race with eight guys with PBs under 2:06, and Kenenisa Bekele with something to prove after controversially being left off the Ethiopian squad for Rio. Will a tasty battle with Wilson Kipsang drive them to a new world record? Then we’re onto Chicago and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. You don’t want to miss any of them!” A complete elite start list is available here.
Bekele was left off the Ethiopian Olympic squad when the Ethiopian Athletics Federation ruled that he had not run enough big races over the previous year to meet the selection criteria for the marathon. Bekele subsequently attempted to qualify for the 10,000m but failed to finish the race at a qualifying event in the Netherlands. At 34, Bekele currently holds both the 5,000m and 10,000m world records and, despite a recent streak of disappointment, is coming off a third place finish at this year’s London Marathon, where he ran a 2:06.36.
Kipsang was among the streak of runners to break the world record in Berlin when he raced a 2:03.23 in 2013. Kipsang was just behind Bekele in London with a 2:07.52, placing fifth.
The elites will be joined by about 40,000 runners from more than 100 countries, so there’s sure to be plenty of PBs and triumphs among the field. Best of luck to all chasing goals in Berlin this Sunday!
- Ravi Singh (@ravimatsingh)