Kipchoge, Bekele to Face Off at London Marathon
The battle of the titans was announced last Friday morning by the race organizers, who added Bekele to the already stacked elite field bound for London. Kipchoge confirmed last December that he was running the race after closing out his incredible 2019, when he won his 4th crown at the 2019 London race and became the first person to ever break the 2-hour barrier in a marathon (though that record did not count officially). Kipchoge holds the official world record in a marathon, 2:01:39, which he set at Berlin in 2018.
Kipchoge has long been believed to have no equal in the marathon distance, but Bekele changed that mindset at the 2019 Berlin Marathon. The runner had the world record within his grasp, but finished two seconds short in 2:01:41.
That wasn’t first time the Ethiopian great has knocked on the door of marathon greatness. Three years before that, he was six seconds off of Dennis Kimeto’s 2014 world record of 2:02:57, which went untouched until 2018.
Despite coming up just short both times, Bekele has solidified himself as one of the greatest runners of all time on the road and track. He may be seconds away from the world marathon record, but his second-place ranking still fills out a solid resume that includes world records in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters on the track.
“This is a match-up of two of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen and two men who already have their names in the record books,” London event director Hugh Brasher said in a press release. “We are thrilled we have been able to make it happen in London.”
— Virgin Money London Marathon (@LondonMarathon) January 16, 2020
The two have faced off four times prior to this race in the marathon, including the 2016 and 2018 London Marathons, which Kipchoge won.
It is impossible to know if we will see a world record in London. We have seen fast times come out of the race, including Kipchoge’s 2:02:37 last year, which, at the time, was the second-fastest marathon ever.
What we do know is: Whoever comes out on top will be regarded as the best marathoner in the world on that day.
“I am looking forward to racing against Eliud once again,” Bekele said in the press release. “We have had many great battles over the years on the track, roads, and cross country. He is a special athlete who proved that again with his magnificent achievements last year. I feel like my win in Berlin proved that I am still capable of winning the biggest races in the world and in world-class times. I am really looking forward to what I can do in London.”
The two greats will be amidst an exceptional field of marathoners, including second- and third-place finishers from last year, Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun.
This article originally appeared on runnersworld.com