After his recent victory at the Great North Run, Wilson Kipsang will be in confident mood as he prepares for Berlin marathon tomorrow (Sunday 30 September). But those hoping to see Kipsang's compatriot Patrick Makau try and repeat his record-breaking performance at last year's event will be disappointed as the world record holder won't be competing.
Despite his 2:03:39 record-breaking performance in the 2011 race, Makau's management has decided not to enter him in this year's event. Makau said: "It is very disappointing not to race in Berlin. I was prepared to go there and defend my title."
There will still be a strong Kenyan contingent at the race, including Boston and New York marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai. And Makau is confident his countrymen will put on a strong performance in his absence, saying: "I know that they are capable of setting the fastest time over the flat Berlin course. We have been training together in Eldoret and they are geared up for the event."
Many consider Mutai the favourite and the 30-year-old sees Berlin as an opportunity to better his Boston marathon time. He said: "Because of the hills in Boston you can't go with the same speed, but the Berlin course is flat, so you can maintain the same speed."
In the women's field, Ethiopia's Aberu Kebede will be looking to emulate her performance of two years ago when she won the race in 2:23:58. Kebede's victory came in inclement weather at what locals now refer to as 'the rainy race', but she is hoping for a drier day on Sunday. She said: "I'd prefer pleasant conditions, no rain, and not too cold." It looks like Kebede will get her wish as temperatures of around 8C (46F) are predicted for the start of the race, going up to 13C (55F) by midday, with little or no wind.
Although Berlin is often touted as the 'world record course' with seven world records being set there in the last 15 years, the women's record hasn't fallen since Naoko Takahashi of Japan won the race in 2002, finishing the course in 2:19:46. Kebede is hoping to change that on Sunday: "I wanted to come back here, after winning two years ago. I feel confident I can produce another good result. If everything goes well on Sunday, I think I can run under 2.20. That's my aim."
Her training partner, Tirfi Tsegaye, discussed the pair's relationship and is hoping to improve on her winning performance at Paris marathon this year, which she completed in 2:21:40. She said, " We train together, but there's no real rivalry, although obviously we both want to win. I think I can improve on my 2:21."
The event will be shown on British Eurosport with coverage starting at 7:45 am (BST) on Sunday. For more information visit the UK Berlin marathon website.