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Kenyan runners face Ethiopian hurdle
in quest for Berlin Marathon victory    

NAIROBI,  (Xinhua) -- Defending champion Gladys Cherono of Kenya will put her title on the line as she confronts multiple world and Olympic gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia and Edna Kiplagat at the Berlin Marathon on Sept. 16.

Organizers have assembled some of the fastest women in women marathon with hope that they will make a serious attempt to lower the world record, which has stood since 2003.

“The elite women’s field for the Berlin Marathon is the strongest for many years. We proudly present Tirunesh Dibaba, Gladys Cherono and Edna Kiplagat. This will be a thrilling race,” the organizers said in a statement.

Cherono will be keen to make it three wins in four attempts after clinching the gold medal in the German capital in 2015 and 2017 while Kiplagat has won twice the world title and celebrated numerous wins at the Boston Marathon.

Just like Dibaba, Kiplagat will be making her debut in Berlin. “Berlin is calling. Pleased to announce my next destination. Looking forward to running fast time,” said Kiplagat.

However, focus will be on 32-year-old Dibaba, who has three Olympic gold medals and nine world titles on the track and cross country.

The Ethiopian has a marathon personal best time of 2:17:56. That time, which she set when finishing second at last year’s London Marathon, makes her the third fastest woman in history.

Dibaba is keen to beat this time in Berlin and, given ideal weather conditions, might even get close to the world record of 2:15:25, set by Paula Radcliffe in 2003.

Cherono regained the Berlin Marathon title last year in 2:20:23, having won in 2015 with a best time of 2:19:25.

Kiplagat, 38, won world titles in 2011 and 2013 and nearly picked up a third gold medal in London last year, eventually settling for silver by just seven seconds.

The Kenyan set her personal best time of 2:19:50 in 2012 and is a previous winner in London, New York and Boston.

Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia set her best time of 2:19:31 on the second of her three Dubai Marathon victories.

The 2010 London Marathon champion will be returning to Berlin for the first time since taking the world bronze medal in the German capital back in 2009.

Compatriot Yebrqual Melese joined the sub-2:20 club earlier this year, clocking 2:19:36 to finish third in Dubai. The 28-year-old has previously achieved marathon victories in Prague, Houston and Hangzhou.

Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga finished second in Berlin last year in 2:20:41 and will be keen to improve on that this year.

Meanwhile, after running an impressive 2:22:44 on her marathon debut to win in Osaka earlier this year, Japan’s Mizuki Matsuda will line up in Berlin for the second marathon of her career. 


Kipsang trains eyes on breaking world record, win Berlin Marathon

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Former world record holder Wilson Kipsang has warned his critics to rule him out at their own peril as he seeks to reclaim the Berlin Marathon title.

Speaking to Xinhua in Nakuru on Wednesday, Kipsang, who holds a fast time of 2:03:13, which he clocked in Berlin in 2016, said he is inspired by the prospects of breaking the 2:02:57 world record, currently held by compatriot Dennis Kimetto.

Despite not having won any race in 2018, the New York Marathon silver medalist is spoiling for fight to reclaim his ranking among the elite.

Last year, Kipsang experienced mixed fortunes after his 2017 victory in Tokyo, dropping out of Berlin in September but bouncing back to finish second at the New York City Marathon in November.

This year, stomach problems forced Kipsang to stop midway through the Tokyo Marathon course, but the 36-year old is certain he will attain his goal of running 2:02:50.

“My main aim is the world record,” said Kipsang. “If the temperature and weather is ideal, then I will push for fast time.”

Kipsang is the fifth fastest man after Kimetto (2:02:57), Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge (2:03:05), Emmanuel Mutai (2:03:13) and Kenenisa Bekele (2:03:03).

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