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Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele after finishing third in the men's 2021 Berlin Marathon. Photo/COURTESY

Athletics

Kipchoge’s World Record stays intact as Bekele fades out in Berlin Marathon

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 26- The men’s marathon world record that is owned by the great Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya stays intact after race favorite Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele failed to accomplish the mission at the 2021 Berlin Marathon ran on Sunday in the German Capital.

Bekele, who had declared to go for Kipchoge’s World Record of 2:01:39 in the absence of the Kenyan, only managed to finish third in 2:06:47 in a race won by compatriot Guyo Adola in a time of 2:05:45 while Kenyan Bethwel Yegon was second in 2:06:14.

Bekele, the 2016 and 2019 winner in Berlin, had been attempting to break his personal best when he came within two agonising seconds of Kipchoge’s record two years ago, but ended up settling for third as he finished one minute, two seconds behind Adola.

“The race started off really fast, the leading pack couldn’t maintain that pace, so I took my chance to hit the front,” said Adola after his victory.

“I thought before the race I could beat Kenenisa (Bekele).

“It was so hot, my feet were burning in my shoes, ” Adola added as temperature topped 20 degrees Celsius on the course.

Nine months after suffering from Covid-19, Bekele, who turns 40 next June, was disappointed with his time, but had no thoughts of retiring.

“The big problem for me was the lack of training because of the pandemic,” said Bekele, one of the greatest distance runners of all time, having won world and Olympic gold medals over both 5,000 metres and 10,000m.

“I wanted to do well in Berlin, but I just couldn’t do as well as I hoped — this does not mean my career is over.”

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Adola, 30, celebrated the first major marathon win of his career having finished second to Kipchoge in Berlin four years ago on his debut over the distance.

It was an impressive display from Yegon, who briefly led in the later stages before fading, but he knocked more than two minutes off his previous best marathon time, when he finished eighth in Berlin two years ago.

The lead pack, spearheaded by Bekele, set off at a lightning speed, 25 seconds under Kipchoge’s world record pace after 15kms.

Bekele dropped back from the lead pack, but still stayed on course to run a new world record through the halfway stage.

The warm temperature and the brutal tempo took their toll as the pace setters dropped off and the lead runners were 22 seconds behind world record pace at the 25km stage, just over halfway.

With seven kilometres to go, Adola, 30, opened a three seconds gap ahead of Bekele who was also passed by Yegon.

The Kenyan briefly hit the front, but Adola attacked and retook the lead as they came within sight of the iconic Brandenburg Gate, just before the finish line.

-Women’s race Ethiopia sweep the podium-

In the women’s race, the first Kenyan was Edith Chelimo in fourth place, returning 2:24:33 as Ethiopians swept the podium.

Gotytom Gebreslase who was making her marathon debut, won the race in 2:20:09 ahead of compatriots Hiwot Gebrekidan who came second in 2:21:23 while Helen Tola took third in 2:23:05.

“Although it was my first marathon, I was running to win,” said Gebreslase, the world youth champion over 3000m in 2011.

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