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September 23, 2022

Berlin Marathon Preview | Eliud Kipchoge, Keira D’Amato Chasing Records

The World Marathon Majors return this weekend with the 2022 Berlin Marathon and it’s headlined by two record attempts.

Eliud Kipchoge returns to the German capital for the first time since taking one minute and 18 seconds off the world record in 2018. His 2:01:39 world record has stood since 2018 but did manage to get a scare from Kenenisa Bekele a year later when he ran 2:01:41. Kipchoge may be trying to put this one out of reach for anyone. In his fifth go at the race, he will look to tie former world record holder Haile Gebreselassie as the only men in history to win this race four times.

If you’ve been enjoying Keira D’Amato’s Cinderella story as the 37-year-old mother of two who took a long break from the sport due to post-collegiate injuries only to return and shatter records, the next chapter takes place on Sunday where she will try to lower her own American record of 2:19:12.

Races are set to start at 3:15 a.m. ET. The race will not be televised. You can stream it on Flotrack with a $29.99 subscription. You can also set your IP address to another IP address with a VPN and stream it via Germany’s Das Erste or RBB Sports Berlin.

Eliud Kipchoge Chases His Own World Record

With the continued shift in World Marathon Major dates, Kipchoge was forced to choose between Berlin, London, Chicago and New York for his fall race. Several times in recent years, he’s chosen London in the spring and Berlin in the fall, but this year’s London Marathon is taking place in October for the second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For American fans, there was some dismay that he did not choose New York since the 37-year-old has previously voiced that one of his career goals is to win all six World Marathon Majors. Boston and New York are the only two that he has not raced. More than anything else, the decision to race Berlin suggests that he thinks he can still lower the world record.

“I’m feeling great,” Kipchoge told reporters before the race. “I’m hoping to run a personal best.”

Kipchoge has won 14 of his 16 career marathons, ran 1:59:40 in a controlled time trial and is widely considered the greatest marathoner in history. His lone race this year was a 2:02:40 victory in Tokyo back in March, where he won by 33 seconds. He’s the heavy favorite in this race and weather conditions are looking perfect for another opportunity to run fast. Despite his presence on the international stage since 2003, there have been no signs of Kipchoge slowing down anytime soon. Like Tom Brady, Serena Williams or LeBron James, he’s a global superstar who seems to defy the laws of aging.

He is going for his fourth career victory in Berlin. His only loss on this course came in 2013 when he finished second behind Wilson Kipsang’s then-2:03:23 world record. It’s crazy to think that, in less than a decade, that performance is now No. 20 on the all-time list with 14 guys (Kipsang later ran a personal best of 2:03:13 behind Kipchoge in Berlin in 2016) having run faster – including Kipchoge four times. In the past, Berlin Marathon organizers have been able to assemble a field that included the likes of Kipsang, Dennis Kimetto, or Kenenisa Bekele as fellow headliners to push Kipchoge. But this Sunday will solely be The Eliud Kipchoge Show.

Maybe – just maybe – Kipchoge’s lone challenger will be Ethiopia’s Guye Adola, who won last year’s race in 2:05:45 – the slowest winning time in Berlin since 2009. Adola’s personal best is still just 2:03:46 from his debut at the 2017 Berlin Marathon, where he took the field by surprise and chased down Kipchoge until the final mile but finished just 14 seconds back. Kipchoge is 2–0 against Adola in his career.

The key for Kipchoge’s world record attempt will be just how much help he can get from the pacemakers. He went 61:06/60:33 in 2018 and the pacers had dropped by 25K. When he raced in 2018, Kipchoge’s legal personal best was 2:03:05 but we knew he was capable of faster from his 2:00:25 at Nike’s Breaking2 Project just four months prior. We don’t have a fast time trial to make assumptions from this time but if he’s anywhere close to that shape, we’re in for another world record on Sunday.

ELIUD KIPCHOGE ON THE CITIUS MAG PODCAST

Keira D’Amato Goes International

When the Berlin Marathon elite women’s field was announced, Keira D’Amato’s name was atop the list. Not since the mid-2000s prime of Deena Kastor has an American woman entered a World Marathon Major as the favorite but that seems to be the case this weekend.

D’Amato is always looking for the best opportunity to run fast. She followed up a fourth place finish at the Chicago Marathon by jumping into another training block and then taking down the American record in 2:19:12 just three months later in Houston. She’s also a strong competitor in any field: in the 2.5 years since finishing 15th at the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials, she’s competed in four marathons and finished in the top 8 in each: 2nd (Marathon Project 2020), 4th (Chicago 2021), 1st (Houston 2022), and 8th (Worlds 2022).

This year, she chose Berlin over Chicago (where Ruth Chepngetich’s 2:17:08 is the fastest personal best in the elite women’s field and there are three other women who have run sub-2:21) or London (headlined by five sub-2:18 women including world record holder Brigid Kosgei). D’Amato holds the fastest personal best of the Berlin field by more than a minute. So while Berlin may have the faster course and conditions, Chicago and London have deeper fields where competition could push the clock. Much like in Houston, however, her status as the favorite means she’ll have pacemakers keying off her desired pace and needs, and the control that leading offers may play into her favor.

Recent performances including her 8th place finish at the World Championships marathon off a shortened build and victories at the Falmouth Road Race and the USATF 20K Championships are proof that she’s fit and ready to race. But no American has ever won Berlin, and as a general rule of thumb, when picking between an individual and the field in a major marathon, if the individual is not named Eliud Kipchoge, the field has a good shot.

If D’Amato’s primary goal is the American record, she may even welcome a breakout performance from the likes of someone like Rosemary Wanjiru, who is running her debut marathon but has a 65:34 half PB, to have someone to chase in the later miles.

It’s also worth noting that although Berlin is the site of the men’s world record, the women’s course record is “only” 2:18:11 so the promise of a course record bonus may keep more women near the front rather than running conservatively. Neither the record nor the win is a sure thing for D’Amato, but the table is certainly set for an impressive performance.

Keira D’Amato on The CITIUS MAG Podcast

🎧 Keira D’Amato on Her Breakout Year After ‘A Decade Of Hobby Jogging’ | November 2020

🎧 Keira D’Amato On Breaking The American Women’s Marathon Record | January 2022

🎧 Keira D’Amato After Finishing 8th At The World Championships | July 2022

🎧 Keira D’Amato Wants To Lower Her American Record in Berlin | Aug. 2022

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