However, the croak of invincibility Geoffrey Mutai donned as he rose to the summit of ultimate distance running has faded this season after crashing out of his Boston title defence before missing selection for the London Olympics.
On Sunday, Mutai who blew away the clock in Boston with an astonishing 2:03:02 last year that was invalided as the official world record due to course elevation drop will attempt to legitimise his status as the standard bearer at the distance in Berlin.
Returning to the event since 2010 when he trailed Patrick Makau Musyoki to the line in 2:05:10, the World Marathon Majors (WMM) series leader, 31, will be chasing his compatriot’s 2:03:38 world record ran last year at the same course.
Former world and New York titleholder, Douglas Wakiihuri, who saw Mutai lose his Sotokoto Safari Half Marathon title he organises in July, believes exertions of 2011 have left the runner jaded and his record bid could come to a cropper.
“He is capable of making his status as the world fastest marathoner official on Sunday but it will depend on a number of factors,” Wakiihuri who won the 1987 world marathon title in Rome said Thursday in Nairobi.
“If they (Kenyans) work together then it is possible for the world record to fall but all athletes want it for themselves. Besides, there are many youngsters in the race who are looking to beat Geoffrey to make a name.
“I also believe running 2:03 in Boston and 2:05 New York in the same year took a toll on his speed. I watched him run at Sotokoto in July and although the stamina was there, the speed he had in 2011 has dropped,” he added alluding to the race where Mutai ran 61:13 for third.
For Mutai to fulfil his favourite’s role, he will need to outsmart a field that is going for his prized scalp with the knowledge another failure to post a commanding win will erode his status as a top marathoner Wakiihuri underscores.
“It will depend on how the conditions and other runners take the race and he needs to execute his plan to perfection. Perhaps he will fully recover the shape he was in next year but for now, he needs to understand how the race develops and the first priority should be getting the win then thinking about times,” the 1991 New York champion stressed.
With Makau opting to register for the Frankfurt Marathon, another speedy course where London winner, Wilson Kiprop came within 4 seconds of ending his reign as record holder, Mutai is head and shoulders above the Berlin field.
Compatriots Jonathan Maiyo, 26, Nicholas Kamakya, 27, Geoffrey Kipsang, 19 and Dennis Kimetto, 26 are the pedigree challengers in the field seeking to hog the limelight by toppling the favourite in a race largely made for him.
Deressa Chimsa from Ethiopia, 35, is another in the line-up to watch out for and nothing would give him further joy than toppling the Kenyan cart.
Mutai leads the WMM charts on 50 points and a win on Sunday would all but confirm his as the 2011/2012 series winner of the $500,000 jackpot, the fifth Kenyan in a row to achieve the feat.
“That is also another incentive for him to ensure that he wins first before going for the record since in the past, we have seen many sacrifice their energy chasing good times only for them to collapse later in the race,” Wakiihuri underpinned.