Bekele the star as Berlin race sets off series of top marathons

Berlin, Sept. 24 (BUS): Two-time winner Kenenisa Bekele tops the bill as Sunday’s Berlin race kicks off a six-week marathon frenzy, with the great Ethiopian also planning to run on November 7 in New York.

About 25,000 runners are scheduled to compete in the German capital, making it the biggest event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, German news agency dpa reported.

But that number could double just one week later in October in London as nearly 50,000 runners including Kenyan women’s world record holder Brigid Kosgei will make the biggest marathon ever held, according to the governing body of world athletics.

Chicago on October 10, Boston the next day, Amsterdam on October 17 and New York on November 7 concluded the program after racing fell victim to the pandemic in 2020.

Bekele, the multiple world and Olympic champion, confirmed on Friday that he plans to take on the grueling task of running in Berlin and only 42 days later again in New York.

“Both races are different strategies. In Berlin I will try to achieve a personal best or a world record. New York is also different in terms of the course,” he said.

“I haven’t had a race in two years, I want to take this opportunity, two races in six and seven weeks would be fine.”

He missed the world record just two seconds behind when he clocked 2:1:41 in his 2019 victory.

Whether the 39-year-old can attack Eliud Kipchoge’s mark from the 2018 race in Berlin again is his goal on a track that has seen 11 world records over the classic 42,195 kilometres.

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“I wasn’t sure two years ago, I just came to try my personal best. This time I’m totally confident. I still feel my energy, I don’t feel my age, it’s a good age for a marathon,” Bekele said. .

Kipchoge himself is absent from all of the fall races because his priority was to win the back-to-back Olympic gold medal he achieved in August at the Tokyo Olympics.

Leading the women’s field in Berlin is Hewitt Gebrekidan, the Ethiopian who ran the world’s leading 2:19:35 race in Milan in the spring.

Berlin organizers said 90 per cent of runners should be vaccinated and recovered, with mandatory PCR tests for others, as well as face masks in the start and finish areas for everyone.

“It’s time to send a signal to the outside world that we are still a sporting presence,” Jürgen Lock, managing director of the organization’s SCC Events, said Monday.

“The world will look on, and all current events as well.”

Organizers also said elite runners must fill out a form to confirm that their shoes comply with the rules, a decision to avoid scenes such as two weeks ago in Vienna when top winner Darra Horisa was disqualified because the soles of his shoes were too thick.


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