Its time for Paul Tergat to win a marathon, even he admits that. The man who,
but for Haile Gebrselassie would be considered the greatest distance runner in
history, the man who outstripped even Geb by winning five consecutive World
Cross Country titles has run five marathons so far without winning any. But
Berlin on Sunday could be the one. And given the acknowledged fast course, we
could be talking a world record time.
"I can believe I have run so fast in the marathon without
winning," said the personable Kenyan on arrival in the German capital
today (Thursday). "But it means the distance is still a challenge to me. I
haven had time to see the course here yet, but I know its fast. I don like
making predictions, and in a marathon anything can happen, but I have trained
as well for this as any race".
Tergat is right to be wary, he is the second fastest man in history, with
his 2hr 5min 38sec, and has also run another top ten time, but somebody -
notably worlds fastest man Khalid Khannouchi in London 2002 - has always
managed to get in front of him. The worst occasion was when compatriot Ben
Kimondiu, theoretically the pacemaker relegated Tergat to second in Chicago
2001. "I wasn paying attention, I was looking behind, thinking he wasn
going to finish. I try never to let anyone get away now in the second
Another compatriot, Tegla Loroupe was on hand in Berlin yesterday to give
Tergat some more advice. Loroupe, who lives near the Black Forest won here in
1999, with a superlative second half, to break her own world record by four
seconds, with 2hr 20min 43sec. "This is a fantastic race," said
Loroupe, "and its not because I live in Germany, but the people are very
nice. Tergat can steal that record".
Theres a history of Kenyan pacemakers winning here too, its happened twice.
But with an ear for Loroupes advice, Tergat said, "Id like to run the
first half in about 63.30 or 63.40, and then really go for it". The
weather will be on his side too. Still shuddering at the memory of Chicago
temperatures two years ago, he said, "nine or ten degrees at the start
(9am Sunday), and anything under 20(C) is perfect".