As the fall marathon season kicks off on Sunday with the BMW Berlin Marathon, Geoffrey Mutai has his eye on the world record. The official world record.
Mutai, who in 2011 won both the ING New York City Marathon and Boston Marathon, has reportedly requested that pacemakers target a time of 1:01:40 for the half-marathon. (Click here for the IAAF report.) The world record is 2:03:38, set by Patrick Makau in Berlin last year, although Mutai himself has run faster than that: 2:03:02 in the 2011 Boston race: A time that already makes him the fastest man in history over the distance, albeit on a point-to-point course with a net downhill over the allowable limit for record purposes.
By contrast, seven world records have been set in the past 15 years in Berlin.
“I’ve not reached where I want to be in my career,” he said at a press conference today. “I’m still looking for that.”
Makau, for one, thinks that Mutai may be on target to make history. “I know that they are capable of setting the fastest time over the flat Berlin course,” he said in an e-mail to IAAF correspondent Pat Butcher. “We have been training together in Eldoret and they are geared up for the event.” Makau is planning to compete in the BMW Frankfurt Marathon on October 28.
The weather conditions for Sunday’s race look good, with temperatures in the mid-40s Farenheit and little or no wind.
Regardless of his finishing time, if Mutai wins the race he will become the 2011–2012 World Marathon Majors champion, earning $500,000.
Fast times are also the goal in the women’s race. (Click here for the press conference report.) Ethiopian training partners Aberu Kebede and Tirfi Tseygaye plan to join forces in a quest to become the newest members of the sub-2:20 club.
“We’ll run together from the start, then see what happens,” said Kebede, who owns a personal best of 2:21:40 from her Paris Marathon victory earlier this year.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg