By John Kwoba
NAIROBI, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Former world record-holder Patrick Makau of Kenya has warned the current crop of marathon athletes are capable of winning the race in under two hours and two minutes.
However, Makau noted that his best bet to win in Berlin on Sept. 24 will be Wilson Kipsang, the winner in the 2013 edition where he clocked 2:03.23. This was 25 seconds faster than the time that Makau had set on the same course in 2011.
"The irony of marathon running is that there is always an element of surprise and in this race in Berlin, the bet is on Kipsang stealing the show," Makau said in Nairobi on Thursday.
Kipsang tenured as the world record holder could not last more than a tear as compatriot Denis Kimetto shuttered the record in 2014 when he became the first man to run under two hours and three minutes as he clocked 2:02:57 to win.
"That is why it is critical to look at who is lining up for the race. You can't rule out a dark horse. We could see an outsider, who is under no pressure like the three, come and win the race," Makau said.
Well on Sept. 24 the citizens of Berlin City will see three of the finest marathon runners in Kipsang, facing Eliud Kipchoge, the Olympic champion and Kenenisa Bekele, the 2015 winner in the German capital.
"I'm better placed than anyone else to break the world record. I have done it before and believe I am able to do it again," said Kipsang.
The secret to his strong performance is down to training and Kipsang believes he is hungrier to prove his worth in his third show in the German capital.
Watching them train and put in the hard work and miles will make you appreciate the meaning of the phrase "train hard, win easy."
In the women's race, there will be plenty of anticipation with six runners on the start list have already broken the two hours and 24 minutes mark.
Four of them are Ethiopians and two are from Kenya. Leading this elite field, at least in terms of personal bests, is the Kenyan Gladys Cherono, winner in the 2015 with her lifetime best of 2:19:25.
Cherono was absent last year as she struggled with injury, but she has been able to shake it off and will have keen competition in the shape of her rivals who include defending champion Aberu Kebede, a triple Berlin winner (2010, 2012, 2016), and her Ethiopian compatriots Amane Beriso, runner-up in Dubai 2016, Gulume Tollesa, the 2015 Frankfurt winner, and Meseret Mengistu, the 2015 Paris champion.
Another contender to be reckoned with is the Prague champion this year, Valary Aiyabei of Kenya, with a best of 2:21:57. Every one of them has shown they have the ability to win marathons on the big stage.