Ethiopia's Feyisa Lilesa crosses the finish line at the 2012 Chicago Marathon (© Getty Images)
Two years ago Berlin and Frankfurt produced two fascinating Marathons within little more than a month in the IAAF Gold Label Road Races.
First Patrick Makau ran a World record at the BMW Berlin Marathon when he clocked 2:03:38. Then Wilson Kipsang took the BMW Frankfurt Marathon, going agonisingly close to Makau’s mark as the Kenyan missed out by just four seconds. Will there be a repeat of the 2011 performances in both of Germany’s top autumn Marathons?
Last Sunday Berlin made its contribution when Kipsang finally broke the World record with 2:03:23. Today the organisers of the BMW Frankfurt Marathon added a number of world-class runners to their impressive men’s elite field plus two exciting Marathon talents.
There are now five runners with PBs quicker than 2:05:30 on the start list for the race on 27 October. So strong is the field, it might even give cause for concern to the newly-crowned World record-holder Kipsang.
The participation of Kenyans Vincent Kipruto (2:05:13) and former Frankfurt course record-holder Gilbert Kirwa (2:06:14) had already been announced by the organisers. But the latest additions to the entry list mean that Kipruto and Kirwa are now the third and seventh-fastest men in the field.
Ethiopians Dino Sefir and Feyisa Lilesa are now the fastest contenders. 25-year-old Sefir clocked his personal best of 2:04:50 when finishing second at the Dubai Marathon in 2012. Lilesa was just two seconds slower when finishing second at last year’s Chicago Marathon.
In contrast to Sefir, Lilesa has more experience and achieved a number of notable performances despite being two years younger. In 2010 he ran 2:05:23 to finish fourth in Rotterdam, becoming the youngest runner ever to break 2:06.
Lilesa was also the bronze medallist in the Marathon at the 2011 World Championships and this year took fourth place in the star-studded London Marathon in 2:07:46. He was among the favourites at this year’s World Championships in Moscow, but dropped out mid-race. A fast time in Frankfurt will go some way towards making amends for that.
Two runners return to the Frankfurt Marathon having set personal bests in a memorable race there two years ago. Levy Matebo was second in 2:05:16 while fellow Kenyan Albert Matebor took third in 2:05:25.
Another one to watch is Eric Ndiema. The 20-year-old Kenyan has had an amazing Marathon career so far and could spring a surprise. On his Marathon debut in 2011 he broke the World junior best in Amsterdam when finishing third in 2:06:07, aged just 18 at the time. He is yet to improve on that, but Ndiema has run sub-2:07 times in all four of his Marathons to date. He was fourth in Paris in 2012 (2:06:37), third in Eindhoven (2:06:17) and third again in Paris this year with 2:06:34.
The other promising Marathon talent in the field is Moses Masai. After an unspectacular debut of 2:11:00 at this year’s Dubai Marathon, the 27-year-old could be set for a breakthrough in the Marathon.
The Kenyan, who was third in the 10,000m at the 2009 World Championships, has superb speed with personal bests of 12:50.55 for 5000m and 26:49.20 for 10,000m – very similar marks to that of fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, who improved to 2:04:05 in his second Marathon last Sunday in Berlin.
Organisers for the IAAF