On Thursday afternoon, Berlin Marathon organizers announced that Wilson Kipsang will be running the Berlin Marathon in September. He joins a men’s elite field that already was headlined by Eliud Kipchoge. Needless to say this is an incredible matchup, but it’s one that we’ve already seen three times since 2013.
The showdown a lot of us were hoping to see? Kenenisa Bekele vs. Eliud Kipchoge.
Kipchoge is coming off the fastest marathon ever run with his 2:00.23 at the Nike Breaking2 attempt. Sure, we know there are critics who will say that it doesn’t officially count as his personal best or a world record. But it proved that he’s fully capable of running under the current world record of 2:02:57 and we’re not as far as we may have thought about the limits of human potential. He’s the best marathoner in the world right now and an outright world record strengthens his case even more for the “Greatest of All-Time” argument.
Bekele has reportedly opted to run for the Ethiopian national team at the IAAF World Championships in London. The move was a little bit of a head scratcher. He’s not getting an appearance fee for competing in London and Berlin probably would’ve coughed up a lot of money to have their 2016 champion back to defend his crown. He was just six seconds off Dennis Kimetto’s world record and instead he’s going to try and run something like 2:08 to 2:10 for a medal. Bekele has five world championship gold medals. What’s one more going to do? Even his agency was hoping that a Kipchoge vs. Bekele race would happen.
“My dream scenario would be to see a fight between Eliud and Kenenisa in an autumn Marathon. After Eliud’s sensational 2:00:25, I know he wants the official world record (of 2:02:57 set by Dennis Kimetto) and I’m sure he can break the record,” Bekele’s agent Jos Hermans wrote. “His performance as part of the Breaking2 project has put him another realm. In the past we have spoken about going through halfway in 61:30 and maybe low 61s but Eliud can go through in even faster times. He has set a whole new standard.”
Not to be mistaken though, the race against Kipsang isn’t a bad one. It’s a very good one. He won the Tokyo Marathon in 2:03:58, which remains the fastest time of 2017. It’s very likely that we see the world record fall but it would’ve been even better if we got Kipsang, Bekele and Kipchoge in the same race. Like Hermans, we wanted the fight and we are certainly getting one – but it just lacks a little punch.