Eliud Kipchoge, Guye Adola and Keira D'Amato (© SCC EVENTS / PHOTORUN)
Eliud Kipchoge and Keira D'Amato will lead two top fields when they make their highly anticipated returns to the BMW Berlin Marathon, a World Athletics Elite Platinum road race, on Sunday (25).
Kenya’s Kipchoge is back at the scene of his 2:01:39 world record set in 2018, seeking “a very good race”, while D'Amato has her eye on another North and Central American record as she aims to become the first US winner of this race.
Kipchoge refused to be drawn on exactly what he would class as a “very good race”, but added: “Berlin is a very good place where a human being can actually push limits. I still have to come back to Berlin to try and push limits.
“I can’t say it will be a world record but I want to run a good race – be it a world record, be it a personal best, be it a good race. If all goes well and it is a personal best, a world record, then I will celebrate.”
The 37-year-old returns to race in Berlin for the first time since that remarkable record four years ago, now as a two-time Olympic champion and with an unofficial marathon best of 1:59:41 to his name following the non-record eligible INEOS 1:59 Challenge time trial in Vienna in 2019.
“I trust that I have shown the way to many athletes, to the next generation, that one day a human being will run under two hours on a normal course, like Berlin or somewhere else,” added Kipchoge, who won the Enschede Marathon and his second Olympic marathon last year and then returned to Japan in March to win the Tokyo Marathon in 2:02:40.
“I don’t think I am going to Berlin to run under two hours, but I am going to Berlin to run a very good race that will make everybody inspired and love marathons.”
With wins in 2015 and 2017 also on his CV, Kipchoge could match the record number of Berlin Marathon victories achieved by Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie, who won four consecutive titles between 2006 and 2009.
Among those looking to deny him will be defending champion Guye Adola, who won last year’s race in 2:05:45. The Ethiopian’s PB remains the 2:03:46 he ran on his debut in Berlin in 2017, when he went head-to-head with Kipchoge and eventually finished second, 14 seconds back. In 2019 he ran 2:04:42 to finish third in Valencia.
Kipchoge and Adola are among six athletes in the men’s field to have dipped under 2:06 for the marathon, while 13 have gone sub-2:07. That list includes Kenya’s Bethwel Yegon, who finished runner-up to Adola in Berlin last year in 2:06:14, and Eritrea’s Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, who won the world marathon title in 2015 and clocked his PB of 2:05:34 when finishing third in Seville in February.
Ethiopia’s 2019 Chicago Marathon runner-up Dejene Debela, Eritrea’s Oqbe Kibrom Ruesom and Kenya’s Mark Korir, who won the 2016 Frankfurt Marathon and 2015 Paris Marathon, also have PBs under 2:06.
In the women’s race, D'Amato starts as favourite thanks to the 2:19:12 area record she set when winning the Chevron Houston Marathon in January. The 37-year-old went on to finish eighth at the World Athletics Championships on home soil in Oregon and earlier this month won the USA 20km Road Running Championships in 1:04:29 in hot conditions.
“I’d love to run faster than that (2:19:12) in Berlin,” said D’Amato at the pre-event press conference. “To win a great race such as Berlin would be a dream and a great career ambition.”
The course record stands at 2:18:11, set by Kenya’s Gladys Cherono in 2018.
Although D'Amato might be the only athlete in the field with a sub-2:20 PB, there are several athletes who will be looking to break that mark for the first time to challenge her for victory.
Ethiopia's Gutemi Shone Imana ran her personal best of 2:20:11 in Dubai in 2020 and then clocked 2:21:46 in Prague last year, while her compatriots Workenesh Edesa and Sisay Gola have respective PBs of 2:20:24 and 2:20:50, Gola's set when finishing second in Seville in February.
Kenya's Maurine Chepkemoi and Vibian Chepkurui are the other two sub-2:21 women in the field. Chepkemoi set her PB of 2:20:18 in Amsterdam in 2021, while Chepkurui will want to continue her progress after running 2:24:29 to win in Vienna on her debut last year and then 2:20:59 to retain her title in April.
Ethiopia’s Bekelech Gudeta won the Prague Marathon in 2:22:56 in May, while Tigist Abayechew ran 2:22:45 when finishing fourth in Dubai in 2020.
Another athlete to watch will be Kenya's 2019 world 10,000m fourth-place finisher Rosemary Wanjiru, who makes her marathon debut and will be looking to follow the example of Gotytom Gebreslase, who won in Berlin last year when racing over 26.2 miles for the first time.
Ethiopia's Nigsti Haftu, who has a half marathon best of 1:06:17, also lines up for her debut.
Jess Whittington for World Athletics
Keira D'Amato (USA) 2:19:12
Gutemi Shone Imana (ETH) 2:20:11
Maurine Chepkemoi (KEN) 2:20:18
Workenesh Edesa (ETH) 2:20:24
Sisay Gola (ETH) 2:20:50
Vibian Chepkurui (KEN) 2:20:59
Tigist Abayechew (ETH) 2:22:45
Bekelech Gudeta (ETH) 2:22:56
Sayaka Sato (JPN) 2:23:27
Risper Chebet (UGA) 2:23:45
Yukari Abe (JPN) 2:24:02
Meseret Belete (ETH) 2:24:25
Lisa Weightman (AUS) 2:25:15
Natasha Wodak (CAN) 2:26:19
Kanako Takemoto (JPN) 2:26:23
Sonia Samuels (GBR) 2:28:04
Rika Kaseda (JPN) 2:28:29
Ayuko Suzuki (JPN) 2:28:32
Hikari Onishi (JPN) 2:28:56
Ftaw Zeray (ETH) 2:29:15
Katja Fischer (GER) 2:42:39
Julia Mayer (AUT) 2:46:35
Rosemary Wanjiru (KEN) Debut
Nigsti Haftu (ETH) Debut
Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) 2:01:39
Guye Adola (ETH) 2:03:46
Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (ERI) 2:05:34
Dejene Debela (ETH) 2:05:46
Mark Korir (KEN) 2:05:49
Oqbe Kibrom Ruesom (ERI) 2:05:53
Ashenafi Moges (ETH) 2:06:12
Deme Tadu Abate (ETH) 2:06:13
Bethwel Yegon (KEN) 2:06:14
Awet Habte (ERI) 2:06:25
Ryu Takaku (JPN) 2:06:45
Limenih Getachew (ETH) 2:06:47
Hiroto Inoue (JPN) 2:06:47
Zablon Chumba (KEN) 2:07:18
Kenya Sonota (JPN) 2:07:23
Kento Kikutani (JPN) 2:07:26
Kazuki Muramoto (JPN) 2:07:36
Tadashi Isshiki (JPN) 2:07:39
Atsumi Ashiwa (JPN) 2:07:54
Daisuke Doi (JPN) 2:08:13
Nguse Amlosom (ERI) 2:08:23
Rintaro Takeda (JPN) 2:08:48
Yuki Matsumura (JPN) 2:09:01
Byambajav Tseveenravdan (MGL) 2:09:03
Tatsuya Maruyama (JPN) 2:09:36
Abel Kipchumba (KEN) 2:09:39
Stephen Scullion (IRE) 2:09:49
Koshiro Hirata (JPN) 2:09:57
Masashi Nonaka (JPN) 2:09:57
Peter Herzog (AUT) 2:10:06
Abraham Kipyatich (KEN) 2:10:51
Jamsran Olonbayar (MGL) 2:11:02
Kamil Jastrzebski (POL) 2:11:08
Leonard Barsoton (KEN) 2:11:11
Gantulga Dambadarjaa (MGL) 2:11:18
Renqing Dongzhibu (CHN) 2:11:54
He Jie (CHN) 2:12:00
Johannes Motschmann (GER) 2:12:18
Mike Sayenko (USA) 2:13:00
Haftom Welday (ERI) 2:13:47
Frank Schauer (GER) 2:14:43
Konstantinos Gkelaouzos (GRE) 2:14:44
Erik Hille (GER) 2:15:04