Two Fastest Marathoners In History Face Off In Berlin Sunday

Haile Gebrselassie’s goal is obvious: He intends to break his world record again. If he succeeds it will be the third time in a row that he would establish a new world best at the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON. So far the 36 year-old has broken an amazing 26 world records during his career. Gebrselassie thinks that he can at least slice off another 30 seconds from his present marathon record. “If everything fits together perfectly then may be even 2:02:59 would be possible,” says the Ethiopian, who is going for a record fourth consecutive victory at the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON.

But Sunday’s marathon could well be the toughest for Haile Gebrselassie in Berlin. In a recent interview Kenya’s star runner Paul Tergat named four fellow countrymen who he thinks may be able to break Gebrselassie’s world record: Olympic Champion Sammy Wanjiru, Martin Lel, James Kwambai and – Duncan Kibet.

For more than two years Haile Gebrselassie has not competed against an athlete as strong as Duncan Kibet in the marathon. This could well become a fascinating duel. “I feel honoured to be able to run against Haile Gebrselassie,” said Duncan Kibet during Thursday’s press conference in Berlin. My training went very well and I think it is a very good sign that my training partner James Kwambai ran 59:09 minutes last Sunday at the Rotterdam Half Marathon.” Duncan Kibet did not want to comment on a possible world record attack, but said that he intends to break his personal best. For this he must of course run in the region of the world record. “After Rotterdam I though that I might be able to run even faster in Berlin. So this is why I decided to go for this race.”

Looking ahead to a duel with Haile Gebrselassie the Kenyan record holder said: “I don’t know about Haile’s training. And he does not know about my training. So we will have to wait and see how it develops. But I will try to run his pace.”

There will be two more Kenyans and one Ethiopian with high-class personal bests in the race. Francis Kiprop came fourth at the Seoul Marathon in 2008 with 2:08:30 and Mariko Kiplagat (all Kenya) placed fourth at last year’s real,- BERLIN-MARATHON in 2:09:04. Ethiopia’s Eshetu Wondimu was able to improve to 2:08:41 despite bad weather conditions in this year’s Dubai Marathon. The strongest non-African runner could be Atsushi Fujita (Japan) who has a personal best of 2:06:51. This however is already nine years old.

Askale Magarsa is the favorite on the women's side in Berlin. Photo:
Askale Magarsa is the favorite on the women's side in Berlin. Photo:

Ethiopian favourites in the women’s race

Askale Tafa Magarsa will be the favourite in the women’s race on Sunday. A year ago the 24 year-old Ethiopian finished second behind Irina Mikitenko (Germany), clocking a great personal best of 2:21:31. With that she remained the second fastest woman worldwide in 2008. Now Askale Tafa Magarsa returns to the real,- BERLIN-MARATHON and will be eager to further improve. She may well be able to establish a world season’s best, which currently stands at 2:22:11. Irina Mikitenko clocked this time when winning in London in April. Askale Tafa Magarsa’s strongest rival probably will be a fellow Ethiopian: Atsede Habtamu clocked 2:25:17 in torrential rain in January’s Dubai Marathon, where she took second place.

Genet Getaneh will also be in with a chance on Sunday. The 23-year-old Ethiopian finished fifth in 2:26:37 at the Dubai Marathon this year. The strongest Kenyan should be Leah Malot. She has a very good long distance track record and improved to 2:30:29 at the Paris Marathon this April.

Source: real-Berlin Marathon

Courtesy of Thomas Steffans/SCC Events

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