Less than a week ago, marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge announced he will return to the Berlin Marathon on Sept. 24 for a bid at his fifth Berlin title on the famously flat and fast course. Many fans expected Kipchoge to choose to run the New York City Marathon in November in preparation for the extremely hilly course at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Now, he will potentially clash against the second-fastest man in history, Kelvin Kiptum.
On June 15, he conducted a virtual press conference with the media to explain his decision behind Berlin, hinting at his future plans and chatting about the potential clash between him and the 2023 London Marathon champion, Kiptum. Kipchoge said: “Kiptum has all power to do what he wants. I have done enough. I trust that what I have done in the (sport) world will be respected. In any case, I wish him well. […] If Kiptum runs under 2:00, he will always be the second [to do so]. I’ll be the first one. So I have no worries at all.”
In his two marathon starts, the 23-year-old Kiptum won on both occasions. He ran a 2:01:53 debut to win the 2022 Valencia Marathon and followed it up with a 2:01:25 to break Kipchoge’s course record at the 2023 London Marathon five months later.
Only three men in history have run under 2:02, and Kiptum is the only marathoner to do it under the age of 35. Although Kiptum has not been announced for the 2023 Berlin Marathon, there has been a lot of speculation about him entering this year’s elite field. After his win at the 2023 London Marathon, he expressed interest in seeing what he could do on the Berlin course, which is known to be fast and flat. Berlin has been the race where the last eight men’s marathon world records were set, dating back to Paul Tergat’s record of 2:04:55 in 2003.
At the 2023 Boston Marathon, Kipchoge had a tough day on the prestigious course, struggling with a leg issue that ultimately brought him his second marathon loss in the last nine years (he finished sixth). “I have no control over what happened in April in Boston,” Kipchoge told reporters. “There’s no point in brooding. I can (only) control things happening now and get ready for Berlin.”
The goals remain the same for the 38-year-old Kenyan, who is looking for his third consecutive Olympic gold in the marathon at the 2024 Paris Olympics. “I want to be the first man to win back-to-back-to-back,” Kipchoge said. “I am really looking for that. That would be real, real history.” Kipchoge believes that Berlin gives him the best opportunity to prepare himself for gold in Paris, giving him nearly 10 months to train in the lead-up to the Games.
Earlier this month, Kiptum also withdrew his name from a nomination to the Kenyan marathon team at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, which hints that a fall marathon will indeed be on his calendar.