NAIROBI — Double Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge has played down his chances of setting a new world record when he lines up for his sixth Berlin Marathon tomorrow.
The 37-year-old set the current benchmark with a spectacular time of two hours, one minute and 39 seconds on his last outing in the German capital four years ago.
Since then, the Kenyan has won his fourth London Marathon, retained his Olympic title in Japan last year and finished first in the Tokyo Marathon in March as well.
“I always say I don’t call a world record but I want to run a good race,” Kipchoge told BBC Sport Africa.
“Be it a world record, be it a personal best, be it a good race but let us call it a good race. If all goes well and it becomes either a personal best and world record, then I will celebrate.
“I don’t know my limits, actually, in Berlin. But I’ll try to push myself. I don’t know where [the] limit is.” In 2019, Kipchoge became the first person to run the marathon under two hours, with an unofficial time of 1:59:40 in Vienna, Austria.
He ran the fourth quickest time in history when he won in Tokyo six months ago and as he returns to the famously fast Berlin course this weekend, he says the city is a “very good place” where the world record could be broken again.
“I tell people that if you want to push your limits, come to Berlin,” he said.
“I have shown the way to many athletes, to the next generation, that one day a human being will run under two hours in a normal course.
“I don’t think I’m going to run under two hours, but I’m going to Berlin to run a very good race which will make everybody get inspired and love marathons and enjoy watching.” Kipchoge has been consistent with what inspires him to run, saying he wants to make the world “a running village”.
In Berlin he will face defending champion Guye Adola of Ethiopia. The pair went head-to-head at the 2017 Berlin Marathon, which Kipchoge won.
“I respect all the competitors – but I treat myself as the best one,” Kipchoge said.
“I have trained well. I know something else can happen but I respect my trainings. What has changed is maybe the way I think. I treat marathons in a special way.
“The last time I was in Berlin was before I actually ran a sub two-hour and you can see now that the mentality has changed a little bit on how to approach the race, on how to train.
“But the training is under the same coach, the same training routine – just injecting some small routines.”
Victory in Berlin would give Kipchoge a record-equalling fourth win, putting him level with Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie. Retaining the aim of being on the start line at the 2024 Paris Olympics to attempt to become the first athlete in history to win three Olympic marathons, Kipchoge says the discipline is as much a mental one as it is a tactical one.
“Marathon is a very long event and if your mind cannot handle running for a very long time, then your tactics cannot work,” he said.
“When your mind is okay, then your muscles are good. So I’m trying my best to convince my mind that I’ve done a thorough training.
“(The) mileage is already in my muscles and the big day to implement all these things is coming.” — BBC Sport Africa