Former world record holder Patrick Makau and former world champion Luke Kibet of Kenya are the latest inclusion to the men’s elite list at the Berlin Marathon on Sept. 24.
Makau, who made headlines in 2011 when he became the second Kenya to claim the world marathon record after legendary Paul Tergat, will return to the German capital expectant of a strong performance.
However, with a very strong challenge group ahead of him, albeit on form and time, Makau will be hoping for a miracle if he is to win.
“I really look forward to running again. I had to pull out of Boston marathon because of a knee injury. The doctors said it was an acute injury of the soft tissue surrounding my left knee. But I have overcome it and now Berlin is the next stop,” he said.
It will be the first time that Makau returns to the course where he set a world record back in 2011.
“It is a fast course and we have some very strong runners in Kipsang and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele. But I will have my space and hopefully time my run to perfection,” he said.
Makau last competed in Fukuoka, Japan where he finished second in December, failing to make it his third straight win on the course. But that will not detract him from focusing on Berlin redemption.
Like many Kenyans brought up in country communities, Makau is not the most demonstrative of characters; but as well as having the build to withstand long fast training, he thinks tactically.
He ran the 2011 edition of the Berlin Marathon in 2:03:38, to beat Haile Gebrselassie world record. The record had stood for two years before countryman Wilson Kipsang bettered it by running just 15 seconds faster, finishing in 2:03:23 in 2013.
Both men will be lining up on Sept. 24 and though Makau conceded that Kipsang is stronger and capable of beating the current world record of 2:02.57 by Dennis Kimetto, he holds out as a spoiler.
“I will wait and take my chances. I start slowly but finish strong and if they will go with my pace, then I have an outside chance of winning in Berlin again,” he said.
There will also be another chance for former world champion Luke Kibet to make a comeback.
Aside from Kibet, Makau, Bekele, Kipchoge and Kipsang, the men’s field also includes Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew, who has a 59:11 half marathon personal best time. Pacemakers include former Chicago Marathon runner-up Sammy Kitwara, who has a lifetime best of 2:04:28.
Kipchoge has admitted that there is pressure on his shoulders to break the world marathon record after clocking 2:00:25 in Monza as part of the ‘Breaking Two’ project earlier this season.
“With the three of us (Kenenisa Bekele and Wilson Kipsang), I think I am the only one under pressure heading to the race in Berlin. If the two of them have 40 percent pressure, then I have 95 percent because of the time I ran in Monza and the Olympic gold as well. I have a lot of pressure,” he said.
“I expect a tough and beautiful race but at the end of the day, there will only be one winner.”
The elite field in the women’s race is headed by former winner Gladys Cherono from Kenya and Prague Marathon winner Valary Aiyabei, plus Ethiopians Amane Beriso, Gullume Tollesa, Meseret Mengistu and Ruti Aga. Reigning champion Aberu Kebede is a late withdrawal.