The die is cast. Eliud Kipchoge, the world marathon record holder, will attempt to lower the 42km all-time at the Berlin Marathon, the World Athletics Elite Platinum road race, today.
But perfect marathon conditions must prevail Kipchoge, the two-time Olympic champion who is billed as the greatest marathoner of all time.
He must enjoy a near-perfect pacing. When he set the world record in 2018, Kipchoge ran a negative split in that race, splitting 61:06 for the first half and 60:33 for the second stretch.
His pacemakers in half marathoners Noah Kipkemoi (60.52) and Moses Koech (59.31) are expected to lead him through to the 30km mark. But if they run out of gas mid-way through the race, Kipchoge must save enough energy to remain within world record pace in the final 12km.
Berlin Marathon has assembled the best ever field in history for the 2022 showdown, with six men sub-2:06, 13 sub-2:07). However, only two of those men have broken 2:05 — Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s defending champion Guye Adola.
Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, the 2015 world champion and 2016 New York Marathon winner, is coming off a 2:05:34 personal best in Seville in February.
The Ethiopian’s all-time mark remains the 2:03:46 he ran on his debut in the Berlin Marathon in 2017, when he went head-to-head with Kipchoge and eventually finished second, 14 seconds back. In 2019, he ran 2:04:42 to finish third in the Valencia Marathon.
Kenya’s Bethwel Yegon, the 2021 runner-up, is another star to watch even though he was 12th at the Boston Marathon in April. He finished runner-up to Adola in Berlin last year in 2:06:14.
Ethiopia’s 2019 Chicago Marathon runner-up Dejene Debela, Eritrea’s Oqbe Kibrom Ruesom and Kenya’s Mark Korir, who won the 2016 Frankfurt Marathon and 2015 Paris Marathon, also have personal bests under 2:06.
Kipchoge, who longs to win all the six World Marathon Majors, looks composed and ready to attack the world record of 2:01.39. He has won London, Berlin, Chicago and Tokyo and is keen to seal it with Boston and New York marathons.
The second half would turn out to be a battle between Kipchoge against the clock.
America’s Keira D'Amato D'Amato, with a personal best of 2:19.12, will lead the women’s onslaught.
The course record stands at 2:18:11 set by Kenya’s Gladys Cherono in 2018.
Kenya's Maurine Chepkemoi and Vibian Chepkurui are the other two sub-2:21 women in the field. Chepkemoi set her PB of 2:20:18 in Amsterdam in 2021, while Chepkurui will want to continue her progress after running 2:24:29 to win in Vienna on her debut last year and then 2:20:59 to retain her title in April.