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Ethiopia’s long distance superstar Kenenisa Bekele is back: the 39-year-old will be on the start line to defend his title in the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON on Sunday, his fourth appearance in the race. Two years ago he ran through the Brandenburg Gate on his way to another Ethiopian record of 2:01:41, a mere two seconds outside the world record of Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge. Thanks to that performance, he remains the second fastest marathoner of all time and heads Berlin’s elite field for this Sunday. Although he made no concrete mention of a world record attempt at Friday’s press conference, there were signs that he had the target on his mind.

 

Around 25,000 runners from 139 countries will be taking part in the 47th edition of the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. Although over 90% of participants have been inoculated against the Corona virus, the race will take place under strict hygiene regulations. “For months our challenge has been to organise a safe BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. We’ve achieved our objective,” said Jürgen Lock, the general manager of race organiser SCC EVENTS. “It’s a very good feeling, we’ve arrived at the new reality.”

 

It’s not just among the very top with Kenenisa Bekele that the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON’s field impresses. The strength in depth among the elite fields is also very good. Ten men have personal bests of under 2:10. “We have connected almost seamlessly with where we had our last race in 2019. Naturally we are delighted that we have been able to recruit a very strong field with Kenenisa Bekele at the top,” said the race director Mark Milde. Guye Adola and Olika Adugna are two compatriots of Kenenisa Bekele who could also produce impressive results. Adola made what was then the fastest marathon debut ever when he ran 2:03:36 in Berlin in 2017. “I want to be among the leading group on Sunday,” announced Adola. His fellow Ethiopian Olika Adugna himself made an excellent marathon debut in Dubai in 2020 with victory in 2:06:15. Both are men to watch on Sunday.

 

Eleven world records have been set at the BMW BERLIN-MARATHON so far, more than at any other marathon. Could Kenenisa Bekele make it a round dozen on Sunday? “I have prepared well, but the pandemic hasn’t made it easy in the last two years,” said Bekele. Asked about the difference with his 2019 race in Berlin where he went so close to the world record, the man with three Olympic long distance gold medals to his credit reflected: “At the time it wasn’t clear whether I could run that fast. This time I have more confidence and will do my best.”

 

“Sunday may not be my last chance of the world record, I want to run a couple of years more,” added the 39-year-old, who won the 2016 Berlin title in 2:03:03, only six seconds outside the then world record. The next year he had to drop out. This Sunday clearly offers Kenenisa Bekele the best chance of breaking the world record. It’s a view shared by his Dutch manager Jos Hermens: “Kenenisa has energy and the ability to be right up front at over 40. But Sunday’s race will be his best chance of a world record.“

 

Philipp Pflieger aims for personal best

 

Philipp Pflieger has one thing in common with Kenenisa Bekele. The only German top runner among the elite men’s field will also be running his fourth BMW BERLIN-MARATHON. He ran what was his personal best here in 2015 with 2:12:50, qualifying for the Olympic Games. He dropped out of the race in 2017 and 2019. “My aim is run under 2:12 and perhaps even just under 2:11,” said Pflieger, who enters the race with a PB of 2:12:15.

 

MEN’S ELITE FIELD:

 

Kenenisa Bekele ETH 2:01:41

Guye Adola ETH 2:03:36

Philemon Kacheran KEN 2:06:05

Festus Talam KEN 2:06:13

Tadu Abate ETH 2:06:13

Olika Adugna ETH 2:06:15

Tesfaye Lencho ETH 2:06:18

Hidekazu Hijikata JPN 2:06:26

Michael Njenga KEN 2:06:43

Okubay Tsegay ERI 2:06:46

Josphat Boit KEN 2:07:20

Kazuki Muramoto JPN 2:07:36

Taku Fujimoto JPN 2:07:57

Bethwel Yegon KEN 2:08:35

Weldu Gebretsadik NOR 2:09:14

Yimer Getahun ISR 2:09:27

Melkam Jamber ISR 2:09:51

Kamil Karbowiak POL 2:10:35

Hosea Kipkemboi KEN 2:10:40

Getaye Gelaw ETH 2:11:03

Blazey Brzezinski POL 2:11:27

Philipp Pflieger GER 2:12:15

Ömer Alkanoglu TUR 2:12:15

Adrian Lehmann SUI 2:12:34

Christian Vasconez ECU 2:12:50

Benard Kimeli KEN Debut

Abraham Kipyatich KEN Debut

William Wanjiku KEN Debut

 

More information is available online at: www.berlin-marathon.com 

 

Please note: You may watch Sunday’s press conference with the winners from approximately 12.30 pm here: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSqRWRPHCVA


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