The 2013 Berlin Marathon scheduled for Sept. 29 is already being billed as one of the fastest ever, but that doesn't mean the result is guaranteed.
Although Kenyans Wilson Kipsang, Geoffrey Kipsang and Eliud Kipchoge are the runners to beat, there is a chasing group that features some very talented athletes who could claim glory for themselves. Three of them are listed below.
Stephen Chemlany, Kenya
Stephen Chemlany has a personal best of 2:07:55, which is good enough to rank him among the second level of competitors, below the three names mentioned above.
Chemlany finished second on this course in 2011, which is also when he set that personal best. At 31, he is a vastly experienced runner with 15 marathons to his name.
Congrats to Stephen Chemlany for finishing second in the Berlin Marathon in a Club Record & PB 2:07.55! WTC write up: http://t.co/epYDalR4— WestchesterTC (@WestchesterTC) September 26, 2011
While he may not have the final speed to take down Wilson Kipsang, Chemlany should be well-placed to take advantage of any errors from the favourite.
It's going to be a flat, quick race, so Chemlany will probably need to beat his PB in order to remain in contention. If he can stay with the top three runners, he'll be in a great position. Don't count him out.
Eliud Kiptanui, Kenya
If there's going to be a new world record set, the Berlin Marathon is the place to do it. Ayumba Ayodi wrote for Daily Nation that the event has produced eight world records in the past.
Eliud Kiptanui ran a 2:05:39 in his debut marathon in 2010, which seemed to suggest that he had a shot at the record. However, he's faded since then and only managed to break the 2:06 mark once.
We've seen that Kiptanui has the legs to post a fast time, and the course in Berlin should bring out the best in him.
He's still only 24, so has plenty of room to improve. He's definitely a runner to watch as the race develops.
Sharon Cherop, Kenya
All the talk leading up to the start of the women's event has been of Florence Kiplagat of Kenya, and rightly so. Kiplagat has a 2:19:44 personal best, which none of the other runners can match. However, her other two marathons have all been slower, and she hasn't made many waves this year.
Sharon Cherop finished third in Boston this year with a time of 2:27:01. Kiplagat posted a 2:27:05 in the 2013 London event. While it's obviously difficult to compare two times from different courses in different places, it shows that the women's event it still very much up for grabs.
Cherop has a personal best of 2:22:39 which she set last year, so the 29-year-old is still on the upswing of her career. She'll need a fantastic run to get the better of Kiplagat, but she certainly has the ability to do so.