Two years ago Berlin and Frankfurt produced two fascinating Marathons within little more than a month in theÃ‚Â IAAF Gold Label Road Races.
First Patrick Makau ran a World record at the BMW Berlin Marathon when he clocked 2:03:38. Then Wilson Kipsang took the BMW Frankfurt Marathon, going agonisingly close to MakauÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mark as the Kenyan missed out by just four seconds. Will there be a repeat of the 2011 performances in both of GermanyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top autumn Marathons?
Last Sunday Berlin made its contribution when Kipsang finally broke the World record with 2:03:23. Today the organisers of the BMW Frankfurt Marathon added a number of world-class runners to their impressive menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s elite field plus two exciting Marathon talents.
There are now five runners with PBs quicker than 2:05:30 on the start list for the race on 27 October. So strong is the field, it might even give cause for concern to the newly-crowned World record-holder Kipsang.
The participation of Kenyans Vincent Kipruto (2:05:13) and former Frankfurt course record-holder Gilbert Kirwa (2:06:14) had already been announced by the organisers. But the latest additions to the entry list mean that Kipruto and Kirwa are now the third and seventh-fastest men in the field.
Ethiopians Dino Sefir and Feyisa Lilesa are now the fastest contenders. 25-year-old Sefir clocked his personal best of 2:04:50 when finishing second at the Dubai Marathon in 2012. Lilesa was just two seconds slower when finishing second at last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Chicago Marathon.
In contrast to Sefir, Lilesa has more experience and achieved a number of notable performances despite being two years younger. In 2010 he ran 2:05:23 to finish fourth in Rotterdam, becoming the youngest runner ever to break 2:06.
Lilesa was also the bronze medallist in the Marathon at the 2011 World Championships and this year took fourth place in the star-studded London Marathon in 2:07:46. He was among the favourites at this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s World Championships in Moscow, but dropped out mid-race. A fast time in Frankfurt will go some way towards making amends for that.
Two runners return to the Frankfurt Marathon having set personal bests in a memorable race there two years ago. Levy Matebo was second in 2:05:16 while fellow Kenyan Albert Matebor took third in 2:05:25.
Another one to watch is Eric Ndiema. The 20-year-old Kenyan has had an amazing Marathon career so far and could spring a surprise. On his Marathon debut in 2011 he broke the World junior best in Amsterdam when finishing third in 2:06:07, aged just 18 at the time. He is yet to improve on that, but Ndiema has run sub-2:07 times in all four of his Marathons to date. He was fourth in Paris in 2012 (2:06:37), third in Eindhoven (2:06:17) and third again in Paris this year with 2:06:34.
The other promising Marathon talent in the field is Moses Masai. After an unspectacular debut of 2:11:00 at this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Dubai Marathon, the 27-year-old could be set for a breakthrough in the Marathon.
The Kenyan, who was third in the 10,000m at the 2009 World Championships, has superb speed with personal bests of 12:50.55 for 5000m and 26:49.20 for 10,000m Ã¢â‚¬â€œ very similar marks to that of fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, who improved to 2:04:05 in his second Marathon last Sunday in Berlin.