Kenenisa Bekele Has Come to the NYC Marathon to Win

4 weeks ago 34

In 2019, Kenenisa Bekele came wrong 2 seconds of breaking Eliud Kipchoge’s satellite record. At 39, the Ethiopian champion has travel to New York to beryllium helium tin inactive triumph anywhere.

Kenenisa Bekele finished 3rd  successful  this year’s Berlin Marathon. That was lone  six weeks ago.
Credit...Lisa Leutner/Associated Press

Matthew Futterman

Nov. 5, 2021Updated 12:22 p.m. ET

Kenenisa Bekele, arguably the top region runner ever, is not truly expected to beryllium here. In New York. Running different marathon, conscionable six weeks aft the past one. Believing helium is connected the cusp of proving to the satellite that helium is the fastest marathoner alive.

But Thursday afternoon, astatine 39-years-old, Bekele was a abbreviated locomotion crossed Central Park from the decorativeness enactment of the New York City Marathon, which helium plans connected winning sometime a small earlier noon connected Sunday morning.

“I volition beryllium successful a precise bully position,” Bekele said of his chances.

Indeed. He is conscionable astir the fastest marathoner alive, and truthful overmuch faster than everyone other successful the race, adjacent if this marathon does not needfully favour the fleetest successful the field.

A small much than 2 years ago, Bekele completed the Berlin Marathon successful 2 hours 1 infinitesimal 41 seconds, conscionable 2 seconds disconnected Eliud Kipchoge’s satellite record, acceptable successful Berlin the erstwhile year. He has 2 large marathon championships, 3 Olympic golden medals and 5 satellite championships astatine 10,000 and 5,000 meters.

In September, helium ran the Berlin Marathon and finished third, successful 2:06:47, conscionable 62 seconds down the winner. He blamed his show connected a atrocious nighttime of slumber and constricted grooming clip due to the fact that of a lawsuit of Covid-19. Regardless, calling it a play would person been perfectly appropriate.

Instead, helium kept with his program to besides tally New York, a contention helium has ne'er done before, conscionable six weeks aft Berlin. He refuses to judge the thought that runners approaching their 40th day are not expected to adjacent deliberation astir winning 1 of the six satellite marathon majors. He said helium believes helium tin find those 2 seconds helium near connected the people successful Berlin successful 2019 and interruption Kipchoge’s satellite record.

“I tin spell faster, and I tin triumph races,” helium said. “If I spell faster I volition triumph the race.”

Bekele going faster is simply a frightening thought for his competition, which speaks astir the grant of being connected the aforesaid starting enactment with idiosyncratic galore of them idolized increasing up, and his enduring speed.

“If helium goes retired and runs 4:35 miles I’m not going to beryllium seeing him precise much,” said Jared Ward, a seasoned American marathoner.

Still, successful the satellite of marathon moving determination is Kipchoge and past determination is everyone else. Kipchoge, who speaks successful pithy parables, crashed done the two-hour barrier successful 2019. He has achieved a mythic presumption successful athletics, the fastest philosopher king successful the past of the world.

That tally did not number arsenic a satellite record, however. Its sole extremity was to beryllium that a quality could tally 26.2 miles successful little than 2 hours. Kipchoge ran a bid of loops successful what amounts to a clip proceedings connected a dead-flat people successful Vienna, surrounded by a rotating formed of pacesetters who blocked the upwind for him and kept him connected track. The satellite grounds lone counts if it happens successful a sanctioned race.

And this is wherever Bekele is focusing his efforts successful the twilight of his career, searching for 1 past flyer that volition springiness him thing Kipchoge does not have.

Jos Hermens, who manages some Bekele and Kipchoge, said Bekele whitethorn beryllium a amended earthy runner than Kipchoge, but Kipchoge has proved helium has the stronger mind.

“Kipchoge is Zen, but Bekele is simply a Ferrari,” Hermens said. “Watch him tally downhill Sunday. No 1 tin tally similar him.”

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Credit...Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Bekele and Kipchoge were expected to look disconnected successful the Olympic marathon successful Japan. However, Bekele became embroiled successful a quality with the Ethiopian Athletics Federation implicit its qualifying rules. Bekele’s adjacent satellite grounds successful Berlin should person earned him 1 of 3 spots connected the team. But aft the pandemic delayed the Games, Ethiopian officials decided to clasp a 35-kilometer contention successful May to find its Olympic team. Bekele did not compete, and officials rejected Bekele’s entreaty for an automatic spot connected the team. They took 3 marathoners whose champion times were not astir arsenic accelerated arsenic Bekele’s. None won a medal.

Without the Olympic marathon, Bekele’s legs had plentifulness of clip to hole for a engaged autumn season, and helium is putting them to bully — and alternatively remunerative — use.

A prima similar Bekele commands a six-figure quality interest to tally a large contention similar the New York City Marathon. He volition person different $100,000 if helium wins. The net volition assistance Bekele proceed to excavation retired from respective troubled existent property investments helium made successful Ethiopia during the past decade, Hermens said.

Still, winning is hardly guaranteed. The archetypal fractional of the contention is mostly level but arsenic it heads into Manhattan, and particularly successful the last miles, the rolling terrain allows runners who mightiness not beryllium capable to support up with the fastest racers connected a level people to compete.

Bekele is hardly conscionable a velocity instrumentality though. He won 11 cross-country satellite championships from 2002 to 2008, and knows however to standard a hill, oregon dodge a pothole oregon a manhole cover, arsenic the New York people sometimes requires.

And yet 2:01:41 is 2:01:41, an outrageous clip that is not successful the aforesaid beingness arsenic the champion times for everyone other successful the elite men’s field. For Bekele, not winning, adjacent conscionable six weeks removed from his past race, would beryllium stunning.

He rested for 1 time pursuing the Berlin Marathon, past had a airy week of grooming but was soon backmost to moving 130 miles per week again, knowing what awaited him successful New York.

“The marathon is simply a distance,” helium said. “It’s not rather easy.”

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