JOHANNESBURG – The battle for supremacy between Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele at the London Marathon on October 4 is back on.
London Marathon organisers confirmed on Thursday the race will go ahead, six months after its originally scheduled date in April. The race, however, will only feature elite athletes in a bio-secure environment to allow the event to take place amid the the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It means, that the duel between Kipchoge and Bekele will take centre stage.
“Elite races for men, women and wheelchair athletes will take place on an enclosed looped course in St James’s Park in a secure biosphere (a contained safe environment like that of Formula 1 and England cricket) and times will be eligible for Olympic qualification,” event organisers said in a statement.
Originally billed as the ‘Race of the Century’, the world record-holder (2:01:39), defending champion Kipchoge will be the heavy favourite.
There are few runners on the world stage that can actually challenge the undisputed ‘best-ever’, but Bekele is one of them. Bekele ran a 2:01:41 at the Berlin Marathon in September 2019 – two seconds behind the record set by Kipchoge at the same race a year prior.
Kipchoge was also the first man to break two hours for the marathon when he ran 1:59:40 in contrived conditions in October last year, which included using the Nike AlphaFly Shoes which has prompted World Athletics to bring in new regulations for footwear.
It will be Kipchoge’s first race since breaking two-hours, and at 35-years-old there may not be too many more chances for the running great to be at his best.
Bekele, at 38, is Kipchoge’s senior and therefore the clock is ticking even more loudly for the Ethiopian.
In total, Kipchoge has won eight of the World Marathon Majors in nine attempts. In fact, his worst result was in his second appearance in a 42.2km event at the 2013 Berlin Marathon – in which he finished second.
However, with the obvious pedigree of Bekele, a close contest could well be on the cards.
African News Agency (ANA)