By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(04-Sep) -- Earlier today, organizers of the BMW Berlin Marathon announced their elite athlete fields for the race's 40th running, headlined by world record holder Patrick Makau and Olympic bronze medalist Wilson Kipsang, both of Kenya. The race, to be run on Sunday, September 29, will kick-off the fall World Marathon Majors season.
Known for its fast, flat course, the BMW Berlin Marathon could see both Makau and Kipsang make a run at the world record of 2:03:38, set by Makau at the 2011 edition of the race. Kipsang enters the contest with a 2:03:42 personal best from the BMW Frankfurt Marathon in 2011, the second fastest marathon ever run on a record-eligible course only behind Makau.
In the last two years, Makau and Kipsang have met twice at the marathon distance, both at the Virgin London Marathon. In 2013, Kipsang took fifth in 2:07:47 while Makau finished well back in eleventh, 2:14:10. A year prior, Kipsang won the event in 2:04:44 as Makau failed to finish, dropping out at about 10 miles.
Since his world record run in September of 2011, Makau has had a tumultuous experience with the distance. After dropping out of London in April, 2012, he was subsequently not chosen to represent Kenya at the London Olympic Marathon, yet came back strong to win the 2012 BMW Frankfurt Marathon in a time of 2:06:08. The eleventh place showing at the Virgin London Marathon has been his lone marathon of 2013.
Kipsang, on the other hand, has performed well at the distance, taking wins in London and and Honolulu in 2012 (he had planned to run the ING NYC Marathon, but the race was cancelled due to Superstorm Sandy). In 2012 at the London Olympic Marathon, he earned a bronze medal behind Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich and fellow Kenyan Abel Kirui.
Among the other entrants expected to challenge Makau and Kipsang are two-time Olympic medalist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, 2006 and 2008 ING New York City Marathon champion Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil, and 21-year-old Kenyan Geoffrey Kiptanui of Kenya.
Race organizers also announced that each of the seven world record holders who have set their marks at the event will return to the German capital for the 40th anniversary run. Among the four men represented are Haile Gebrselassie (2007 and 2008), Ronaldo Da Costa (1998), Paul Tergat (2003), and Makau (2011). In total, the men's world record has been set on the Berlin course five times.
The women's field boasts a strong list of elite athletes, led by past champions Florence Kiplagat of Kenya and Irina Mikitenko of Germany. Kiplagat, is the 2011 champion, while Mikitenko stands as the German marathon record holder and 2008 winner. Sharon Cherop, the 2012 Boston Marathon champion, Georgina Rono, and Helah Kiprop complete a strong Kenyan contingent. American Olympian Desiree Davila, Sweden's Isabellah Andersson, and Japan's Remi Nakazato and Eri Hayakawa will also compete.
Christa Vahlensieck, Tegla Loroupe, and Naoko Takahashi will represent the women's world record holders at the event, organizers said.
PHOTO: Patrick Makau on his way to setting the world record at the BMW Berlin Marathon in 2011 (Photo by PhotoRun, courtesy of the BMW Berlin Marathon)