Vivian and Cherono set for nervy battle in Berlin Marathon

By Dennis Okeyo and Agencies: Thursday, June 27th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
Kenya's Gladys Cherono, Vivian Cheruiyot, Mary Keitany and Brigid Kosgei. [Reuters]

Vivian Cheruiyot, the runner up at the London Marathon last April, will be up against defending champion Gladys Cherono at the 39th Berlin Marathon on September 29.

Cheruiyot, 35, was ranked top female marathoner in the world in 2018, having won 2018 London and 2017 Frankfurt marathons as well as runner up spot at the 2018 New York Marathon. Cherono finished fourth in London and eyes fourth title in Berlin.

Vivian and Cherono, a three-time Berlin Marathon winner, boast sub 2:19 and will take on Ethiopia’s Mare Dibaba, who has twice run under 2:20 and bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Dibaba will make her Berlin Marathon debut.

 “We are naturally delighted that we’ll be having the defending champion Gladys Cherono on the start line,” said Race Director Mark Milde.

Milde added: “Compared to the men, the women in Berlin have some ground to make up. With three very strong contenders in the line-up, the women’s race on September 29 could be centre stage.”

In the past twelve years, the men’s race at the Berlin Marathon has produced a string of world-class times with six world records into the bargain. The presence of Cherono and Vivian suggests that these two Kenyans could headline a show-stealing performance from the elite women in general.

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After victories in 2015 and 2017, Cherono achieved her third triumph in the Berlin last year. The 36-year-old, who won the World Half Marathon title in 2014, also broke the course record of the Japanese Mizuki Noguchi of 2:19:12, which had stood for 13 years.

Cherono’s time of 2:18:11 was a big improvement in her lifetime best and helped her join the exclusive club of women champions in Berlin with three wins apiece.

“My goal is now to win for the fourth time in Berlin,” Cherono said after she had completed the hat-trick last year.

Dibaba, 29, who boast of more marathon experience, will be out to challenge the Kenyan duo. She won the world title in Beijing in 2015. She has a best of 2:19:52, achieving that time twice in 2012 and 2015. Given Berlin’s renowned fast course, Dibaba will be aiming to run another very fast time.

Berlin marathon forms the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM) along with Tokyo, Boston, London, Chicago and New York. For the first time, the Berlin Marathon will mark the final race in the current series.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Herculis meeting announced on Tuesday that the women’s mile event at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco on July 12.

Genzebe Dibaba, who broke the 1500m world record in Monaco in 2015, will take on Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech and Sifan Hassan. Chepkoech broke the steeplechase world record in Monaco. Men's 1,500m has world champion Elijah Manangoi, world indoor record-holder Samuel Tefera and Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz.

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