Eliud Kipchoge, who stands out as the world’s fastest marathoner, must summon his mind games as he competes at the BMW Berlin Marathon on Sunday next week.
He longs to kill three birds with one stone: break the 2:02.57 world record mark, prove that his 2:00.25 in Italy last April was no fluke, and beat his main challengers in Wilson Kipsang and Ethiopia’s national record holder Kenenisa Bekele.
Kipchoge, the Olympic marathon champion, takes on a rich field that has world record holder Dennis Kimetto in the flat Berlin course that has 19 turns.
“I am under pressure as I prepare for Berlin. Being an Olympic champion and having attempted the sub-two hours, the athletics world expects a lot from me.
“I proved it and to the three months last May that any human being can go beyond any limitation when you really concentrate and love what they do,” said Kipchoge.
However, Monza’s time was not recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as a world record because he utilised a team of alternating pacemakers who acted as shields against the wind.
Kipchoge, an all-weather runner, recorded impressive results in track for 18 years and is only eight seconds shy of Kimetto’s record of 2:02:57. He said he is ready for the challenge despite the classy line up.
“At the end of any sport contest, there is only one winner and the event on September 24 will be no different – one winner. And that winner will be me. After Breaking2 project in May, I took one month rest before embarking on Berlin Marathon mission.
“I have been in athletics for 18 years. When I started, my coach (Patrick Sang) gave me noble advice that the best competitor is myself. I’m going to Berlin as Eliud Kipchoge but I expect everyone there to give their best.”
Yesterday, Isuzu signed a one-year brand ambassador partnership with Kipchoge. It gave him the Sh7 million car for training and personal use for one year.
Charles Kariuki, the Isuzu Chief Finance Officer, said Kipchoge will use the vehicle to meet his training and lifestyle requirements and Isuzu EA will reward him with a luxury double cab pickup worth Sh5.9 million if he breaks the world record at the Berlin Marathon. Isuzu will not offer him any other monetary reward.
Bekele will hunt his third world record to cap his current record in the men’s 5,000 and 10,000m races while Kipsang will be attempting to reclaim the record he lost to Kimetto in 2014 in the German capital.
Bekele is a triple Olympic champion and double world record holder on the track and became the world’s second-fastest marathon runner of all time when he won the 2016 Berlin Marathon in 2:03.03 to break Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie’s record.