Multiple World Champion Kenenisa Bekele hopes to finish TSK 25K having broken the world record set by Kenyian Dennis Kimetto in Berlin in 2012 at 1:11:18.
Bekele, who flew into Kolkata from Addis Ababa, said: “At the sea level it is possible to break the world record if the conditions are not extreme and if the pollution level is within control. Then you can breathe properly and your legs function well.
Though I have not seen the track as yet I think I would set myself a target of 1:12,” he added.
The hurt is still there at not being able to break the world record in marathon in 2016 in Berlin when he finished at 2.03:03, becoming the second fastest person in the history of the sport. After a strong surge to take the lead just before the 41-kilometer mark, Kenenisa Bekele won the Berlin Marathon, the time just 6 seconds off Dennis Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57, set in Berlin in 2014.
However, Berlin continues to be the place where Bekele has suffered most. This year he dropped out of the race due to the extreme wet and cold conditions. “I just could not run. I could not enjoy what I was doing. My legs could not find grip on the surface. It was filled with water and hence I dropped out. But since then I have trained well and recovered well and am ready to run this distance,” Bekele said.
Asked about India, he said: “This is a great country. I like to come here. The people are warm and motivate you to do well. I have seen their impact on the runners. I will be running here for the first time and hopefully will get a lot of support.”
The big target for Bekele, however, is to qualify for Tokyo Olympics and get a gold medal in Marathon in Olympics. “That is the one missing in my cabinet,” he said.
Also present were two of the top Kenyan long distance runners, Helah Kiprop and Valentine Kipketer. Both looked equally excited at the prospects of running in Kolkata in TSK 25K.
Helah, who has had a good year in 2017, hopes that she would leave her mark in Kolkata in the first edition of the race becoming international. Valentine also had the feeling that Kolkata would help her make a podium finish after a successful year when she had a podium finish in Delhi.