Kipchoge’s best of 2:03:05 is only eight seconds shy of the current world record while Kipsang has done his share of record breaking, setting the then-world record of 2:03:13 when winning in Berlin in 2013.
Kipchoge’s aim on Sunday is to break his personal best and attack the 2:02:57 world record Dennis Kimetto set in Berlin in 2014 while Kipsang is equally primed for a record chase. To date, their Berlin rivalry stands level with one win apiece, Kipsang prevailing in 2013 and Kipchoge hitting back with his victory last year.
The men’s marathon in Berlin has become a yardstick for top level performances at the distance worldwide. Over the past 15 years, its flat course has been the stage for half a dozen world records. Since 2003 no other marathon has produced a men’s world record.
Speaking a pre-race press conference in Berlin today, Kipchoge expressed cautious optimism.
"After winning in London in April I concentrated on preparations for Berlin and can assure you that I shall run well on Sunday," said Kipchoge, who's won ten of the 11 marathons he's contested. "I want to improve my personal best.”
When pressed on his world record ambitions, he simply added, “Yes, it would of course be very good if I could run that.”
Perhaps his reluctance to commit publicly to a world record assault is because two previous record bids in Berlin didn't come to pass. In 2015 his shoe insoles came lose and, despite running in pain, he still won in 2:04:00. A year ago bad weather put paid to the world record attempt but he 2:03:32.
Kipsang is he only man to have beaten Kipchoge over the distance but it took a world record to do it. The 36-year-old has plenty of experience and has achieved consistently world class performances over many years, breaking 2:04 on four occasions, a total Kipchoge has not yet matched.
Kipsang plans to run more cautiously than Kipchoge on Sunday.
“I want to run similarly to my world record in 2013," said Kipsang, who dropped out last year after 30 kilometres. "I ran the second half faster than the first then. This Sunday I want to reach halfway in 61:30."
Among those likely to be in the chasing group with Kipsang is half marathon world record holder Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea. “I want to set a personal best on Sunday,” said Tadese, whose best stands at 2:10:41.