Kipchoge: The desire, will to run against Bekele in October is still there
Marathon athletes (L-R) Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya, Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia and Wilson Kipsang from Kenya hold up their start numbers as they pose during a press conference in Berlin on September 22, 2017. [AFP] 

Marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge has reiterated that he is still eager to compete against Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele on October 4 despite the coronavirus conundrum.

Kipchoge pointed out that his priority at the moment is to remain healthy and free from Covid-19.

“Of course the coronavirus has shred all plans we had preparing for the April race in London. But what I want to confirm is that the desire and will to run against Bekele in October is still there. My race against Bekele is still on.

 “The race hopefully, will be in October, should the health situation improve,” said Kipchoge on Tuesday.

Kipchoge admitted that the postponement of the London Marathon to October caught him off guard and disrupted his training routine.

“It did wreck the plans I had and now I am not training as freely as I wanted. I train alone and it is hard. But my top priority, which is the same for all humans at the moment, is to be safe,” he said.

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The race, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, April 26, was postponed to Sunday, October 4, 2020, following the rapid spread of Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom. 

While Kipchoge and Bekele share a common statistic – being the only two marathoners to have completed the full 42-kilometre marathon course in under two hours two minutes, they also share a common goal, to beat the other. 

Kipchoge stole world headlines following his historic feat in Vienna, Austria, in October last year where he became the only known marathoner to break the sub-two-hour barrier in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge

Bekele, about a month earlier, was shy of the world marathon record after winning the Berlin Marathon in 2:01:41 seconds, falling TWO seconds short of Kipchoge’s 2:01:39 record, set in the same race in 2018.

Kipchoge: The desire, will to run against Bekele in October is still there
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after busting the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on October 12, 2019, in Vienna. [Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP]

Who stands a better chance?

While most would argue Kipchoge is a better runner on paper, Bekele poses a threat considering his feats in the short distance races. 

According to Running Magazine, Kipchoge and Bekele have met 20 times over all distances and surfaces, with the Ethiopian emerging victorious in 11 of their 14 meetings on the track.

However, Kipchoge’s greatness manifests in the long-distance races (marathons). The Kenyan has impressively beat Bekele in all four meetings. 

Kipchoge: The desire, will to run against Bekele in October is still there
Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele crosses the finish line to win the Berlin Marathon on September 29, 2019, in Berlin. [Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP]

Summarised comparison of Kipchoge and Bekele’s distinct histories, individual bests and head-to-head records

KIPCHOGE’S RECORDS

Olympics: Bronze in the 5000 metres in 2004. Silver in the same race in 2008. Gold in 2016 marathon. 

World Championships:  Gold in the 5000 metres in 2003. Silver in the same race in 2007. 

World Records: Berlin Marathon (2:01:39) in 2018. 

BEKELE’S RECORDS 

Olympics: Won Gold in the 10,000 metres in 2004 and a silver medal in the 5000 metres. He also won gold in the 10,000 metres in 2008 as well as gold in the 5000 metres. 

World Championships: Won gold in the 10,000 metres and bronze in the 5000 metres in 2003. Won gold in the 10,000 metres race in 2005, 2007 and 2009, as well as gold in the 5000 metres in 2009. 

World Records: 5,000 metres completed in 12:37.35, set in 2004. 10,000 metres gold 26:17.53 set in 2004. 

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