Emmanuel Mutai after finishing the Berlin Marathon (© AFP / Getty Images)
Expectations are high for another fast race at the BMW Berlin Marathon after organisers revealed a high-quality field for the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on 25 September.
Following the announcement in July of Wilson Kipsang’s and Kenenisa Bekele’s participation, five other men with PBs faster than 2:06 will take to the streets of the German capital later this month, while two-time Berlin Marathon champion Aberu Kebede leads the women’s field.
The fastest man on the start list is not Kipsang but his fellow Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai. He finished second in Berlin two years ago in 2:03:13, beaten only by the man who set the world record, Dennis Kimetto (2:02:57).
Another to take into account is Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Mekonnen who will be making his Berlin debut. In 2014 the teenager ran a world junior best of 2:04:32 to make headlines in Dubai but missed out on securing a place on the national team for the Olympics.
Three other Kenyans in the field – Vincent Kipruto, Eliud Kiptanui and Evans Chebet – also have PBs faster than 2:06.
“I think we’ll see a relatively big group in the lead this time since there are a number of athletes capable of going with the kind of pace which will bring a time under 2:04,” said race director Mark Milde. “It could be very exciting and – depending on the weather – very fast.”
While Yuki Kawauchi’s best of 2:08:14 may not threaten the leaders, the prolific Japanese marathon runner will be making his Berlin Marathon debut. Noted for the frequency and consistency of his marathons, the 2014 Asian Games bronze medallist has already run five races at the distance this year.
In the women’s field, Kebede not only has the fastest personal best but a great deal of experience at the Berlin Marathon. She won in 2010 in 2:23:58 and set her current personal best of 2:20:30 two years later when she won the race again. Last year she was beaten only by Kenya’s Gladys Cherono who ran a world-leading 2:19:25 with Kebede finishing second in 2:20:48.
Two more Ethiopian women will be among Kebede’s strongest opponents. Amane Beriso took a big step forward with second place in 2:20:48 in Dubai in January. Birhane Dibaba ran her best of 2:22:30 two years ago when finishing second in Tokyo.
Their compatriot Ruti Aga, who ran 2:25:27 on her marathon debut to finish second in Vienna earlier this year, could also have a say in the outcome.
Organisers for the IAAF
Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) 2:03:13
Wilson Kipsang (KEN) 2:03:23
Tsegaye Mekonnen (ETH) 2:04:32
Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 2:05:04
Vincent Kipruto (KEN) 2:05:13
Eliud Kiptanui (KEN) 2:05:21
Evans Chebet (KEN) 2:05:33
Mark Kiptoo (KEN) 2:06:00
Jacob Kendagor (KEN) 2:07:47
Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) 2:08:14
Aberu Kebede (ETH) 2:20:30
Amane Beriso (ETH) 2:20:48
Birhane Dibaba (ETH) 2:22:30
Reina Iwade (JPN) 2:24:38
Ruti Aga (ETH) 2:25:27
Janet Ronoh (KEN) 2:26:03