For any athlete wishing to run a fast time at the marathon distance, it appears that Berlin is the city for records. Kenyan Dennis Kimetto became the first man to break the 2 hours 3 minutes barrier when winning the 2014 renewal of the race in a time of 2:02:57. It is the fifth time since 2007 that the World Record for the 26.2 miles has been lowered in Berlin on a course described as most definitely flat.
Haile Gebrselassie won the Berlin Marathon on successive four occasions between 2006 and 2009, breaking the World Record twice and becoming the first athlete to run a sub 2:04:00 time when clocking a second lower in 2008. In 2011 Patrick Musyoki was even faster before Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich set a mark of 2:03:23 in 2013.
Yet for Kimetto, the idea of claiming a World Record at the distance was far from his mind several years ago as he only began serious athletics when fellow compatriot and international runner Geoffrey Mutai invited him to training in 2010. Two years later Mutai only just managed to beat Kimetto at the Berlin Marathon which was to herald the emergence of the 30 year old Kenyan on the world stage.
In the Chicago Marathon of 2013, Kimetto sealed victory with Emanuel Mutai in second place and the two runners renewed their rivalry in Berlin with the same 1-2 result.
At the halfway point in Sunday’s epic race, the time was of the leaders was 1:01:45 which is no mean performance for a half marathon but from then the pacemakers increased the tempo to be followed by an even faster speed at the front set by Mutai. Yet as they approached the final few kilometres, it was Kimetto who assumed control and set the new World Record which was 26 seconds quicker than the old version. One second per mile.
Afterwards, Kimetto maintained, “I can break this record again”. That is certainly a confident statement from an athlete who appears to be still learning the sport and the means of pacing the distance correctly.
There was a time when the World Record for the marathon was rarely threatened but since the new Millennium began, over four minutes has been shaved from the official mark and thoughts are now being seriously directed towards the possibility of a sub two hours marathon in future years.
It may not happen for several years to come but Kimetto may be the athlete with sufficient ability especially if he returns to Berlin in similar cool conditions.
However, it could be that another unknown and untested athlete will emerge from Africa with the talent to surpass the achievements of Kimetto allowing a sub two hours mark to become a reality very soon.