Berlin title wide open

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BERLIN, September 24- Without Haile Gebrselassie chasing the world record this year, the field for Sunday's Berlin Marathon will have a different look as the next crop of stars do battle on the famously fast course.The Berlin race is known for producing fast times around the German capital, but with Gebrselassie opting to race in the New York marathon on November 7, the door is open for others to try and beat their personal bests.

The 37-year-old Ethiopian set the world record of 2hr 03.59 mins here two years ago, but three of this year’s field have gone below 2hr 06min.

The 2010 favourite is Kenya’s Patrick Makau who clocked the fastest time in the world of 2hr 4mins 48secs when he won the Rotterdam Marathon.

Compatriot Geoffrey Mutai will be hard on his heels having run 2:04:55, also in Rotterdam.

Both runners know the flat and fast course in the German capital and hope for favourable weather conditions.

Another Kenyan to watch is Patrick Makau who knows Berlin’s streets well after winning the half marathon here in 2007, when he clocked a personal best, and again in 2008.

Also figuring in the lead mix will be Kenya’s Eliud Kiptanui. The 21-year-old was set to compete in April’s Vienna Marathon but had his travel disrupted by the Icelandic volcano eruption.

He opted instead for Prague three weeks later, and won in a course-record 2:05:39.

The women’s race will also be devoid of its biggest drawcard with Germany’s Irina Mikitenko, the 2008 winner, opting to run the Chicago marathon, but German Sabrina Mockenhaupt will be carrying her country’s hopes.

The 29-year-old ran her marathon personal-best when she won the 2008 Frankfurt Marathon in 2hr 26mins 22 secs.

She faces some stiff opposition in the shape of a trio of strong Ethiopians.

Bezunesh Bekele, 27, finished fourth in the London Marathon in 2 hrs 23 mins 17secs in April and has a personal best of 2hrs 23mins 09secs.

Aberu Kebede, 21, ran a personal-best 2hr 24mins 26secs in a runner-up finish at the Dubai Marathon in January, and won the Rotterdam Marathon in April in 2hrs 25mins 29secs.

Genet Getaneh, 24, finished eighth in Dubai, running 2hr 30mins 23secs, but has a personal best of 2hrs 26mins 27secs.

Also figuring into the mix should be Japan’s Tomo Morimoto, who finished eighth in last year’s London Marathon and won 2006 Vienna Marathon.

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