Just over ten years ago, the teenage Eliud Kipchoge sprang into the public consciousness by holding off the celebrated Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele to win the World 5000 metres title in one of the most exciting finishes in the history of track distance running. Despite a decade of superlative performances since then, including Olympic silver and bronze medals, Kipchoge has not quite managed to reach the heights of that performance in Paris.
Pursuing, as he admits an “old school” idea of turning to marathons at the end of his career, the 29 year old Kipchoge made a winning debut, 2.05.30 in Hamburg six months ago. It was a tough race, but if Hamburg was the frying pan, Berlin, where he runs on Sunday, will be the fire. The course may be clement “flat and forgiving”, as Desiree Davila characterised yesterday – but the opposition is torrid.