Created by Kory Kennedy using Getty Images (Kipchoge); Kevin Morris (Bekele)
- World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele are set to compete at the 2020 London Marathon taking place on April 26.
- The distance running greats hold the two fastest times ever recorded in an official 26.2.
The battle of the titans was Friday morning by the race organizers, who added Bekele to the already bound for London. Kipchoge confirmed last December that he was running the race after closing out his incredible 2019, when he won his 4th crown at the 2019 London race and became the first person to ever break the 2-hour barrier in a marathon (though that record did not count officially). Kipchoge holds the official world record in a marathon, 2:01:39, which he set at Berlin in 2018.
Kipchoge has long been believed to have no equal in the marathon distance, but Bekele changed that mindset at the 2019 Berlin Marathon. The runner had the world record within his grasp, but finished two seconds short in 2:01:41.
That wasn’t first time the Ethiopian great has knocked on the door of marathon greatness. Three years before that, he was six seconds off of Dennis Kimeto’s 2014 world record of 2:02:57, which went untouched until 2018.
Despite coming up just short both times, Bekele has solidified himself as one of the greatest runners of all time on the road and track. He may be seconds away from the world marathon record, but his second-place ranking still fills out a solid resume that includes world records in the and on the track, the latter of which was nearly broken on the road this past weekend by Rhonex Kipruto, who was seven seconds off the record.
“This is a match-up of two of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen and two men who already have their names in the record books,” London event director Hugh Brasher said in a . “We are thrilled we have been able to make it happen in London.”
It is impossible to know if we will see a world record in London. We have seen fast times come out of the race, including Kipchoge’s 2:02:37 last year, which, at the time, was the second-fastest marathon ever.
What we do know is: Whoever comes out on top will be regarded as the best marathoner in the world on that day.
“I am looking forward to racing against Eliud once again,” Bekele said in the . “We have had many great battles over the years on the track, roads, and cross country. He is a special athlete who proved that again with his magnificent achievements last year. I feel like my win in Berlin proved that I am still capable of winning the biggest races in the world and in world-class times. I am really looking forward to what I can do in London.”
The two greats will be amidst an exceptional field of marathoners, including second- and third-place finishers from last year, Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew and Mule Wasihun.
Be sure to check back on Runner’s World for race updates.
Gear & News Editor Drew covers a variety of subjects for Runner’s World and Bicycling, and he specializes in writing and editing human interest pieces while also covering health, wellness, gear, and fitness for the brand.