The 42nd annual BMW BERLIN-MARATHON includes some of the biggest running stars in the Abbott World Marathon Majors race series. Two-time Olympic medalist and 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon champion, Eliud Kipchoge, headlines the men’s elite field, and two-time BMW BERLIN-MARATHON champion, Aberu Kebede, leads the women’s elite field.
After a storied career on the track that included a silver and bronze medal in the Olympic Games and a decade of annually running under 13 minutes in the 5000m from 2003-2012, Kipchoge made a smooth transition to the roads. He announced his arrival to the 42K distance with a win at the 2013 Hamburg Marathon, and he has since stood on top of the podium in Rotterdam (2014), Chicago (2014) and London (2015). His only loss came near the Brandenburg Gate in 2013 when former world record holder, Wilson Kipsang, beat him to the line. If Kipchoge wins on September 27, he will be the first man to win both the London Marathon and the Berlin Marathon in the same season, and he will move to the top of the AWMM leaderboard with 50 points.
Out to stop Kipchoge are 2010-2011 AWMM champion and training partner, Emmanuel Mutai and 2011-2012 AWMM champion, Geoffrey Mutai (no relation to E. Mutai). E. Mutai ran stride-for-stride with 2014 Berlin Marathon champion, Dennis Kimetto, en route to Kimetto’s show-stopping world record run, 2:02:57. Mutai settled for second place in 2:03:13 – still 10 seconds under the previous world record set by Wilson Kipsang at the 2013 Berlin Marathon. Berlin remains home to 10 world records, and the last six men’s records have fallen on the fast and flat course. While E. Mutai, a 2009 IAAF World Championships Marathon silver medalist, claimed victory at the 2011 London Marathon, he is best known for his six runner-up finishes in the AWMM race series. The 2015 Berlin Marathon marks his 16th career marathon and his 13th appearance in an AWMM race. E. Mutai failed to make it onto the leaderboard after his 11th place finish in London this spring, but a podium finish in Berlin would put him back in the hunt.
Prior to Kimetto’s world record in 2014, G. Mutai made headlines in 2011 when he ran the fastest time in history at the Boston Marathon, 2:03:02 (Boston is not a record eligible course), and he chased that momentous victory with a win in New York. While a victory in Berlin has eluded both Kipchoge and E. Mutai, G. Mutai broke the tape first in 2012. Although G. Mutai has struggled more recently, including a DNF in London in April, it would be dangerous to underestimate the strength, speed and will of a sub 2:04 runner.
Rounding out the men’s elite field are 2011 IAAF World Championships Marathon bronze medalist, Feyisa Lelisa; two-time Berlin Marathon fifth place finisher (2010, 2014), Eliud Kiptanui; 2014 third place Boston Marathon finisher, Frankline Chepkwony; 2015 Vienna Marathon champion, Sisay Lemma; and 2014 fourth place Dubai Marathon finisher, Tamirat Tola.
Aberu Kebede brings both experience and speed to the women’s elite field. She captured a pair of victories in Berlin in 2010 and 2012.
Her 2010 victory came amidst pouring rain and less than ideal conditions, and she welcomed a new PR – 2:20:30 – with her 2012 victory. In spite of running in six AWMM races, Kebede, the 2009 IAAF World Championships Half Marathon bronze medalist, has only earned points on the AWMM leaderboard from her victories in Berlin. After a three-year absence from the leaderboard, a top five finish on Sunday could vault her back into contention among the world’s best for the AWMM grand prize.
Newcomer Gladys Cherono toes the line after making an impressive marathon debut in Dubai this winter; Cherono turned heads with the third fastest debut in history, stopping the clock at 2:20:03, and finishing in second place. She followed that performance by becoming the ninth fastest woman in history over the half marathon distance at the Istanbul Half Marathon (1:06:38). Prior to moving up in distance, Cherono gained global attention as the 2013 IAAF World Championships 10,000m silver medalist and the 2014 IAAF World Championships Half Marathon champion. The Berlin Marathon is Cherono’s first appearance in an AWMM event.
Far from a duel up front, both Meseret Hailu and Tadelech Bekele plan to contend for the title. Hailu lines up as the 2015 Hamburg Marathon champion, 2012 Amsterdam Marathon champion and the 2012 IAAF World Championships Half Marathon champion. In her only AWMM appearance, she captured second place at the 2013 Boston Marathon (Berlin will be her 10th marathon). Like Kebede, Hailu would like to find herself back on the AWMM leaderboard. Bekele enters with a strong 2:22:51 PR, and a previous fourth place showing in Berlin (2014) – her debut marathon. She remains a relative newcomer to the marathon distance with just two previous finishes.
Geoffrey Mutai (KEN) Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) Feyisa Lelisa (ETH) Eliud Kiptanui (KEN) Frankline Chepkwony (KEN) Tamirat Tola (ETH) Sisay Lemma (ETH) Andre Pollmacher (GER)
Gladys Cherono (KEN) Aberu Kebede (ETH) Meseret Hailu (ETH) Tadelech Bekele (ETH) Fate Tola (ETH) Anna Hahner (GER)
Current AWMM Leaderboard Standings:
1. Yemane Tsegay (ETH): 32 pts
2. Eliud Kipchoge (KEN): 25 pts
2. Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (ERI): 25 pts
2. Endeshaw Negesse (ETH): 25 pts
2. Lelisa Desisa (ETH): 25 pts
1. Mare Dibaba (ETH): 41 pts
2. Helah Kiprop (KEN): 32 pts
3. Birhane Dibaba (ETH): 25 pts
3. Caroline Rotch (KEN): 25 pts
3. Tigist Tufa (ETH): 25 pts
About Abbott World Marathon Majors
The Tokyo, Boston, Virgin Money London, BMW BERLIN, Bank of America Chicago, and TCS New York City Marathons together represent the Abbott World Marathon Majors and serve as Qualifying Races. In the years in which they are run, the Series also includes the IAAF World Championships and Olympic Marathons. At the conclusion of each Series cycle, a $1 million prize purse is divided equally between the top male and female marathoners in the world as determined by points earned in Qualifying Races. The inaugural 2006-2007 WMM Series was launched at the 110th Boston Marathon on April 17, 2006, and concluded at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4, 2007. The Tokyo Marathon became a Qualifying Race in October 2012, and the 2013-2014 series, the WMM's eighth two-year series, began with the Tokyo Marathon on Feb. 24, 2013, and concluded at the TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 2, 2014. The first Abbott World Marathon Majors series, titled AWMM Series IX, began at the 2015 Tokyo Marathon and will conclude after completion of the 2016 Tokyo Marathon.
VIRGIN MONEY LONDON MARATHON?
BANK OF AMERICA CHICAGO MARATHON
TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON