Kenenisa BEKELE: Second Fastest Marathon Ever Run
The legendary Ethiopian distance runner Kenenisa Bekele is the greatest all time distance runner in the world. The current World Record holder of 5,000m and 10,000m narrowly missed to break the third World Record at the 2019 Berlin Marathon by just 2 mere seconds. The current Marathon World Record holder Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge had established World Record at the same venue last year clocking 2:01:39.
Kenenisa Bekele’s astonishing run of 2:01:41 became the ‘Second Fastest Marathon ever run’ in the world. Had he not suffered a tight hamstring problem at 31-km, in all probability Bekele would have eclipsed Kipchoge’s World Record by a greater margin. After winning the 2019 Berlin Marathon, the Ethiopian revealed, “I don't give up. I have had difficult injuries, until only three months ago, but I am happy to run my Personal Best. I had a tight hamstring at 31K and had to slow down, but then it recovered and I was able to retake the lead.
“I knew I was very close to the record, but I couldn’t quite make it. Before the race, I did not expect a world record, so I am very happy to take 80 seconds off my Personal Best.” Bekele’s recovery was astonishing to watch as he fought the demons inside him. Compatriot Birhanu Legese was confidently leading for almost 5km. Greatness of legendary runner is when they overcome everything to triumph in the most fascinating manner. By the 34.5km, Bekele had recovered from his tight hamstring and overtook Legese.
Once Bekele overtook Legese, he gave no room for his compatriot to overtake him. Bekele increased his pace and left Legese behind. As he neared the finishing line, one could clearly see that Bekele had pushed himself to the limit. He crossed the finishing line clocking the second fastest time of 2:01:41 and missing the World Record by just 2 seconds. The Ethiopians swept the podium finish to make it 1-2-3. Birhanu Legese clocked his Personal Best of 2:02:48. Sisay Lemma clocked 2:03:36 to take the third spot.
The Ethiopian legendary distance runner Kenenisa Bekele has a much better chance to break the 2-hour Marathon barrier than Eliud Kipchoge. It will be really interesting to see, who among the two will break the 2-hour barrier in near future. Bekele had made his Marathon debut at the 2014 Paris Marathon. In his first Marathon, Bekele successfully broke the Paris Course Record clocking 2:05:04 to win the title. Simultaneously, Bekele’s debut marathon time bettered legendary marathoners Haile Gebselaissie, Paul Tergat and Samuel Wanjiru’s debut marathon timings.
In the month of October 2014, Bekele entered the Chicago Marathon. Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge won the race clocking 2:04:11. Kenya swept the podium finish with Sammy Kitwara’s 2:04:28 and Dickson Chumba clocking 2:04:32 for the second and third place respectively. Bekele managed to finish fourth with a time of 2:05:51. The Chicago Marathon was perhaps one of the early Marathon races, where the two legends developed a healthy and competitive rivalry.
The Berlin Marathon is considered the fastest Marathon course in the world. Eliud Kipchoge had established the World Record at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. Bekele too had clocked his Personal Best time at the 2016 Berlin Marathon clocking 2:03:03 and winning the title. Kenenisa Bekele had been keeping a low profile since the 2018 London Marathon, where he finished sixth with a time of 2:08:53. Injury affected him to complete the 2018 Amsterdam Marathon. Bekele had to drop out of the race with just a mile to go.
Bekele revealed, “People were saying my career was over. I wanted to show that I can still race well. I knew that although my training was not perfect, I was doing much better than the last year. I believe I can go faster. And maybe even I will run the Olympic Marathon, but I have not decided.” The 2020 Olympic Marathon run would be fascinating to watch the duel between the two legendary Marathoners Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.
Kenenisa Bekele is hailed as the greatest distance runner of all time ahead of Eliud Kipchoge and Haile Gebrselassie across the whole range of track, Cross-Country and the Marathon. Bekele’s 5,000m and 10,000m have stood the test of time since the last 15 years. He established the 5,000m World Record on the 31st of May 2004 at Hengelo in Netherlands clocking 12:37.35. Bekele broke the previous World Record established by compatriot Haile Gebrselassie on the 13th of June 1998 at Helsinki in Finland.
Interestingly, Bekele broke both the 5,000m and 10,000m World Records established by none other than compatriot Haile Gebrselassie. On the 8th of June 2004, Bekele bettered Gebrselassie’s 10,000m 1998 World Record of 26:22.75 to clock 26:21.31 on the 8th of June 2004 at Ostrava in Czech Republic. A year and two months later, Bekele shattered his own World Record to clock 26:17.53 at Brussels in Belgium on the 26th of August 2005. Both of Bekele’s World Records will be really hard to break looking at the current timings at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.
Kenenisa Bekele has won two 10,000m Olympic Gold medals at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also won the 5,000m Olympic Gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Bekele won five World Championships titles in 5,000m and 10,000m at the 2003 Paris, 2005 Helsinki, 2007 Osaka, 2009 Berlin World Championships in Athletics. In total, Bekele has won 11 Cross-Country Gold medal at the World’s stage. He is the most outstanding distance runner of all time.
The 2019 Berlin Marathon will be remembered for a very long time in the world of marathons. The gang of five – four of them Ethiopians – Bekele, Legese, Lemma and Leul Gebrselassie, who were accompanied by the sole Kenyan Jonathan Korir leading the pack. The five were competing against the invisible Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge’s World Record of 2:01:39. The lead pack had clipped nearly 8 seconds of the World Record course time at the 10km mark. They maintained the 8 seconds lead to the 15km mark clocking 43:29 to Kipchoge’s 43.37.
By the 21km mark, the gang of five was still ahead with a time of 1:01:05. Legese and Bekele looked at ease and strong at the half way mark, followed by Lemma, Gebrselassie and Korir. The fast pace took a toll on Korir and Gebrselassie. The three Ethiopians – Bekele, Legese and Lemma kept going at an unbelievable pace. A new Marathon World Record was on the offing.
Missing the World Record, Bekele disclosed, “I felt a little pain in the beginning, so I dropped behind. After a few kilometers I started relaxing, so I tried to push a little bit. I am very sorry. I am not lucky.
I am very happy running my Personal Best. But, I still can do the World Record. I don’t give up. It is encouraging for the future.” He added further, “I was recovering from injury only three months ago. My preparation was not 100%. Fantastic result! But, I feel sorry missing the Marathon World Record by two seconds.”
Interestingly, fellow runner Birhanu Legese became the third fastest marathoner in the world with his time of 2:02:48 for the second spot. Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge opted out of the 2019 Berlin Marathon, because he was preparing to break the 2-hour Marathon barrier on the 12th of October 2019 in Austria.
Kenenisa Bekele was born on the 13th of June 1982 in Bekoji, Arsi Zone of Ethiopia. He announced his arrival at the international scene at the age of 19, when he won the 2001 IAAF World Junior Cross-Country title. He never looked back and achieved greatness with his amazing feat of establishing World Records in the 5,000m and the 10,000m.
Kenenisa Bekele married Ethiopian actress Danawit Gebregziabher in the year 2007. The couple is blessed with three children.