What we learned from the Berlin Marathon
The world-record attempt and battle between Eliud Kipchoge, Wilson Kipsang, and Kenenisa Bekele all proved to be a bust at the Berlin Marathon on Sunday. But despite those let downs, it was still a pretty thrilling marathon.
Here are some storylines to come out of Berlin.
Kipchoge is the marathon GOAT
Aside from the pomp and circumstance, what I was most looking forward to from Berlin was seeing how Kipchoge recovered from his sub-2-hour attempt in May.
And I guess the answer is pretty well. While the world record still stands, Kipchoge demonstrated why he will forever be in the conversation as the greatest of all time with the likes of Haile Gebrselassie, Paul Tergat, Dennis Kimetto, Geoffrey Mutai, and Wilson Kipsang.
Despite the poor weather, he slowly and effectively turned the screws on his opponents, making it a two-man race before the 18-mile mark, and finished with the ninth-fastest marathon time ever. He also extended his marathon winning streak to seven.
The best illustration of Kipchoge as the marathon king, in my opinion, is the photo going around from yesterday showing him directing Guye Adola. If you come at the king…actually, just don’t. Because you will definitely miss.
Guye Adola says “Hello, world” (probably)
According to some post-race reports, Adola said he decided to run what would be his first marathon ever about three months ago. Talk about a debut.
Surprising the entire running world, Adola, who boasts a 59:06 half marathon PR, was the only runner to challenge Kipchoge. He even attempted to break Kipchoge around the 22-mile mark.
Ultimately it was Kipchoge who did the breaking but Adola finished in 2:03:46, the fastest marathon debut ever. He also established himself as one of a handful of runners who can spar with Kipchoge.
The return of Ryan Vail
The lone American in the elite field, Vail was looking to finish a marathon for the first time in more than three years. And finish he did, turning in an 8th place finish in 2:12:40. This was the third marathon where Vail was the top American, adding to his 13th-place finish at the 2013 New York Marathon and his 10th place finish at London in 2014.
Here’s hoping Vail can parlay this result into some other big-time finishes.
And the return of Gladys Cherono
Similar to Vail, it had been some time since Cherono finished a marathon; the 2015 Berlin Marathon to be exact, which she won. So why not return from injury to the place where you enjoyed the sweet taste of victory? (Literally the top three from Berlin drink from a really big beer mug on the podium).
Cherono’s 2:20:23 Sunday was a little slower than her Berlin debut two years ago but it got the job done. She bested Ethiopian Ruti Aga by 18 seconds and demonstrated a stress fracture that kept her out of marathons last year may finally be behind her.
Bekele and Kipsang didn’t show up
Right around the halfway mark, Bekele began to fall of the pace, and he wouldn’t recover. At about the 25k mark he was 20 seconds back, effectively becoming a non-factor. He eventually dropped out around the 30k mark. After the race, LetsRun’s Jon Gault reported that Bekele’s long time agent Jos Hermens had some choice words for his star athlete. Chief among his concerns is that he was not acting like a professional.
And you know what they say, lightning rarely strikes twice, right? Well who knows if that’s an apt platitude, but shortly after Bekele dropped out, the other titan in the field, 2:03:13 man Wilson Kipsang unceremoniously dropped out. No word yet on the reason, but he promises he’ll be back:
— Wilson Kipsang (@Kipsang_2_03_23) September 24, 2017
A brief note on the weather
Being from and running in Massachusetts, I know the joys irritations of running through humidity during the summer months. It’s like running in a sauna, or through a rain forest, or whatever other hyperbole you want to use. There is nothing more fun than putting in minimal effort on a run, but still returning home completely drenched in sweat.
According to reports, humidity in Berlin Sunday at the start of the race was 99 percent. Not really conducive to record-breaking marathon times, despite the lead pack going through 13.1 miles in 60:51. Obviously, I can’t speculate on how much the weather impacted runners’ performances this year although I can’t imagine it helped. I can only emphasize as I saw singlets adhesively coat upper bodies, as if glued.