New challenge for 5K, 10K world record holder.
Kenenisa Bekele, the world record holder for 5000 and 10,000 meters who is often considered the greatest distance runner on the track in history, will make his marathon debut in Paris on April 6.
“It will be a crucial test for the rest of his career,” the Ethiopian’s manager, Jos Hermens, told the IAAF. “If successful, that would mean he could target the marathon at the Rio [de Janeiro] 2016 Olympics.”
The announcement that Bekele will make his 26.2-mile debut at Marathon de Paris comes days after a BBC interview in which former London Marathon director Dave Bedford stated, “I don’t believe Bekele will be coming to London,” where a possible match-up with Mo Farah had been eagerly anticipated. Bekele’s feat of winning the 5000 and 10,000 at the 2008 Olympics and 2009 world championships was duplicated by Great Britain’s Farah in 2012 and 2013.
Bekele, who also earned 10,000-meter gold at the 2004 Olympics, had injury difficulties subsequent to the 2009 world championships, but his September half marathon victory over Farah at England’s Great North Run intensified interest in his impending marathon debut. Bekele, 31, has let it be known that he's now doing a weekly three-hour run.
“If I am going to do a marathon, of course I want to win,” Bekele has said. “Of course, if I train hard I will do a fast time. But I can't say I will run 2:03, 2:05 or 2:06 …. I have to motivate myself to train hard to be ready to put myself in a good position. We will see in the end what the result will be.”
The Marathon de Paris route is a flat one, with a course best of 2:05:12 achieved by Kenya’s Stanley Biwott in 2012. It was also the venue for Wilson Kipsang’s marathon debut in 2010, a third place 2:07:13. Kipsang set the world record of 2:03:23 in Berlin this past September.