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September 19, 2017

Who is going to win in Berlin? Examining the numbers

Fall is always a special time of year. Crisp and clear mornings are abundant. People across the nation try to convince themselves that they are ready for summer to be done. And now, running’s internet personalities do their best to hype-up a forthcoming world-record marathon performance.

This year’s jaunt in Berlin is no different as three out of the four best marathoners of the past decade will be present, albeit some are more excited about it than others. Who has the best shot of securing the world record, which the organizers are working very hard to make happen,  Let’s take a look.

Okay. Let us start by taking a look at Bekele, Kipchoge, and Kipsang’s lifetime marathon efforts over time:


(note: Olympic performances, DNFs and the Breaking2 races have been removed from this entire analysis)

Kipsang’s marathon career began much earlier than the other two athletes and he came out HOT. 2:03:23 at Berlin 2013 (for an at-the-time world record) announced his arrival. Kipchoge got in the game in 2013 and has been outrageously consistent. Now it seems he doesn’t even get out of bed for anything slower than 2:05. Meanwhile, Bekele has been very solid but not putting up the type of numbers that would inspire a lot of confidence that he can take down two of the best in the game.

We can also take a look at how each of these athletes run their respective races, analyzing their 5K splits.

Kipsang is historically very consistent overall, barring two efforts where he blew up. This chart takes a look at the deviation of each split from the average 5K pace for each respective race.  The lion’s share of his marathons close relatively well.

Bekele, despite being one of the greatest distance athletes of all time, gets a bit dicey when racing the marathon. It almost hurts to say these words about him, considering how dominant he was on the track. However, four out of his five marathons have him closing the last 10K at a slower pace than his average time. This doesn’t seem good!

Kipchoge, on the other hand, is an absolute commander on the course. I will always ride for Eliud:

These splits (and their consistency) are just ridiculous. Kipchoge has run very controlled in every marathon he has entered and never really blown up. Which suggests that when he does race, he is very prepared.

My prediction: Eliud Kipchoge for the win in a new world record of 2:02:09. If you knew me, you knew that was my pick before you even started reading this article.

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