Berlin Marathon 2021 Preview

The autumn marathon season gears up a notch with the introduction of the 2021 Berlin Marathon, here’s our preview. Taking place on 26th September the elite field will see Ethiopia lead the charge through Kenenisa Bekele, Guye Adola and Hiwot Gebrekidan. With Bekele having come within two seconds of the world record on his last visit to Berlin Eliud Kipchoge may be having a few sleepless nights.

Who is in the elite field for the 2021 Berlin Marathon?

The men’s field for the 2021 Berlin Marathon is as follows:

AthleteCountryPersonal Best
Kenenisa BekeleEthiopia2.01.41 (Berlin 2019)
Guye AdolaEthiopia2.03.46 (Berlin 2017)
Eliud KiptanuiKenya2.05.21 (Berlin 2015)
Philemon KacheranKenya2.06.05 (Valencia 2019)
Festus TalamKenya2.06.13 (Eindhoven 2017)
Tadu AbateEthiopia2.06.13 (Amsterdam 2019)
Olika AdungaEthiopia2.06.15 (Dubai 2020)
Tesfaye LenchoEthiopia2.06.18 (Dubai 2020)
Hidekazu HijikataJapan2.06.26 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Michael NjengaKenya2.06.43 (Sevilla 2020)
Okbay TsegayEritrea2.06.46 (Seville 2019)
Kazuki MoramotoJapan2.07.36 (Lake Biwa 2021)
Benard KimelliKenyaDebut
Kamil KarbowiakPoland2.10.35
Philipp PfliegerGermany2.12.15

The women’s elite field for the Berlin 2021 marathon is as follows:

AthleteCountryPersonal Best
Hiwot GebrekidanEthiopia2.19.35 (Milan 2021)
Purity RionoripoKenya2.20.14 (Prague 2021)
Amane BerisoEthiopia2.20.48 (Dubai 2016)
Shure DemiseEthiopia2.20.59 (Dubai 2015)
Ruth ChebitokKenya2.23.29 (Toronto 2018)
Betelhem MogesEthiopia2.23.38 (Milan 2021)
Rebea SchönebornGermany2.27.03 (Enschede 2021)
Ivona BernadelliPoland2.27.47 (London 2015)
Laura HottenrottGermany2.28.02 (Enschede 2021)
Munkhzaya BayartsogtMongolia2.28.03 (Osaka 2020)
Martina StrählSwitzerland2.28.07 (Berlin 2018)
Izabela PaskiewieczPoland2.28.12 (Debno 2021)
Edith ChelimoKenya2.29.03 (London 2020)
Beati DeutschIsrael2.31.40 (Wrexham 2021)

Who are the favourites for the 2021 Berlin Marathon men’s race?

Kenenisa Bekele has to start as favourite despite an inconsistent time as a marathoner. When he is hot, there is probably only one man in the world who can beat him and Eliud Kipchoge is not on the start line. Bekele has struggled with injury throughout his entire marathon career, an afflicition that caused him to miss the recent Olympic Games. Bekele’s marathon career reads as follows:

  • 2014 – Paris 1st (2.05.04) Chicago 4th (2.05.51)
  • 2015 – Dubai DNF
  • 2016 – London 3rd (2.06.36) Berlin 1st (2.03.03)
  • 2017 – Dubai DNF, London 2nd (2.05.57) Berlin DNF
  • 2018 – London 6th (2.08.53)
  • 2019 – Berlin 1st (2.01.41)
  • 2020 – London DNS
  • 2021 – Yet to race

Guye Adola is the next fastest in the field but comes to Berlin off the back of a modest recent couple of years. 22nd in the World Half Marathon Champs, he ran a 28.23 10,000m at altitude in Addis Ababa earlier this year but has not raced otherwise. Adola was 3rd in Valencia in 2019 (2.04.42) and second to Kipchoge in Berlin in 2018 (2.03.46).

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The outsiders

The next fastest in the field Eliud Kiptanui and Philemon Kacheran have not shown the same form in recent years and will hope for a significant improvement.

One to watch is sure to be Olika Adunga. The Ethiopian is only twenty one but won on debut in Dubai in 2020. He will be targeting Berlin as his first major city marathon win in only his second outing.

Not far behind Adunga that day was Tesfaye Lencho who was fourth in the sprint finish. He was fifth in Prague earlier this year and will need a significant improvement to challenge.

Outside the Ethiopians and interesting challenge may come from Hidekazu Hiijikata of Japan who was second in Lake Biwa earlier this year (2.06.26) but has not raced any distance since July. Benard Kimelli makes his marathon debut, was ninth at the most recent world Half Marathon Champs and won the Prague Half in 2019 (59.07). He is one to keep an eye on.

Who are the favourites for the 2021 Berlin Marathon womens race?

Hiwot Gebrekidan has consistently improved year on year to the point she is now the favourite for the Berlin marathon title. Her 2.19.35 run to win in Milan earlier this year stands out as a breakout performance but one many could see coming. The Ethiopian was second on a tricky Istanbul Marathon course in 2020 (2.24.30) and won in Guanghzhou (2.23.50). This is her tenth marathon, she has completed nine.

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Also in great form is Purity Rionoripo who won in Prague earlier this year. She has ran 2.20 on three separate occassions, won in Paris in 2017 (2.20.55) and was fourth in Chicago that same year. A slight improvement could see her take the crown.

Amane Beriso‘s best may have been back in 2016 when she came second in 2.20.48 but she won her most recent outing over the distance in Mumbai (2.24.51). The Ethiopian has not raced since January 2020 but could well be in the mix round the streets of the German capital.

When Shure Demise ran 2.20.59 in Dubai in 2015 it was a world U20 record, one which still stands to this day. She finished 5th in the 2017 World champs and boasts podiums in Dubai (2017), Chicago (2018), Tokyo (2019) as well as wins in Toronto (2015 and 2016). Her last outing was a disappointing 9th in Tokyo (2020).

Betelhem Moges comes to Berlin having won the Izmir Marathon and finished fourth in Milan this year.

The final athlete who could well vie for the win is the Kenyan Ruth Chetibok. The Kenyan won Barcelona and the Gold Coast in 2018 but has not raced since 2019.

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Featured image “2017 London Marathon – Kenenisa Bekele” by katieteresachan is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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