Race against time

Thursday, September 21st, 2023 00:00 | By
Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge checks his watch as he jogs in Berlin yesterday. PHOTO/ TWITTER

Double Olympic champion and marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge will return home with a cool Sh7 million ($50,000) if he successfully defends the Berlin Marathon title on Sunday.

It will be the same prize money on offer in the women’s race which will see Ethiopian runner Tigist Assefa seek to defend her title. She won the race last year with a time of 2:15:37, breaking the previous course record by more than two minutes in what was only her second marathon ever.

A total of 45,000 elite and amateur marathoners from across the world will be taking part in this year’s edition of the marathon, often referred to as one of the fastest in the world. The 38-year-old Kipchoge, shaved 30 seconds off his own world record at the 2022 edition, finishing the race in a time of 2:01:09.

Apart from pocketing Sh7 million, Kipchoge will become the first athlete in history to win the Berlin Marathon five times if he wins the event again on Sunday. Currently, he is tied at four titles with Ethiopia’s marathon great Haile Gebrselassie, who claimed the Berlin Marathon for four consecutive years between 2006 and 2009.

Kipchoge captured the Berlin marathon title in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2022, also setting a world record in 2018 and 2022. In a recent interview, Kipchoge stated that his main goal is to win three consecutive Olympic gold medals and that he believes running in Berlin is the best way to prepare for this. He said: “Berlin is like home for me. In view of the Olympic Games next year in Paris, I thought about which race could be the best preparation for the Games for me and Berlin is the best option.”

However, he will anticipate a stiff challenge with Kenya’s Amos Kipruto who has a personal best of 2:03:13 among the athletes set to line up with hopes of getting one over the elite marathoner. Kipruto also stands as the second fastest entrant. He’s familiar with competing against Kipchoge, having come second to him in Tokyo 2022.

Other Kenyan athletes set to parade in Berlin include 2010 Prague Marathon winner Eliud Kiptanui, who has a record of 2:05.21 in the marathon, Jonathan Maiyo, Ronald Korir, Philemon Kiplimo, and Mark Korir. Germany’s Amanal Petros, on the other hand, will be aiming to outdo his record of 2:06:27 and give the Kenyans a tough competition.

In the women’s race, Assefa, the current women’s titleholder from the previous edition, will be seeking to defend her title. She recorded a remarkable time of 2:15:37. However, she will come up against Kenya’s 10,000m bronze medalist at the Commonwealth Games Sheila Chepkirui, and German record holder Amanal Petros.

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