Kenya’s Gladys Cherono has been forced to defer her dream for a fourth Berlin Marathon title with the 2017 World marathon champion, Geoffrey Kirui also putting on hold his debut in the race.
The organisers of the race that was due for September 27 have been forced to cancel the marathon after the Berlin Senate, the executive body that governs the city, extended the ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 participants until October 24 due to the novel coronavirus.
“We have learned from the press conference of the Berlin Senate on April 21, 2020, that according to the Containment Ordinance, all events with more than 5,000 persons will be prohibited until October 24, 2020. This applies to many of our events, but especially to the Berlin Marathon,” said a statement on the event’s website.
FIRST RACE TO BE CANCELLED
This is the first cancellation of a World Marathon Majors race this year owing to coronavirus, and it raises questions about the likelihood of other races taking place around the same time, including the rescheduled London Marathon, which is to take place on October 4.
Boston Marathon that was due for April 20 has been rescheduled for September 14.
Cherono, the 2014 World Half Marathon champion, was due to make her fifth appearance in Berlin where she won on her debut in 2015 before capturing the title again in 2017 and 2018.
Last year, the 36-year-old Cherono failed to finish the race after she fell sick just before the race.
Perhaps Cherono’s memorable victory was in 2018 when she triumphed with the fourth fastest time in marathon by then of 2:18:11, which still remains the course record.
“You can only understand what is happening across the world as nations battle to not only control the spread of Covid-19 but also get a cure for the disease,” said Cherono. “It’s impossible to plan for a race until October or November there.”
Cherono, who is now training alone in Eldoret under her coach-cum-husband Joseph Kwambok, said if all goes well she could compete in London due October or New York City Marathon planned for November 1.
“I will plan with my manager Gianni (Demadonna) on which race I will compete in and that will also depend on how the coronavirus pandemic will have been managed,” said Cherono, who finished fifth at 2017 Boston Marathon and fifth in 2018 London Marathon.
Cherono, the 2013 World 10,000m silver medallist, said her training isn’t intense, covering not more than 25km on some selected days of the week. “We are just doing that to keep fit and in race-prepared momentum,” said Cherono, the 2012 Africa 10,000m and 5,000m champion.
Kirui was hoping for his fourth appearance in Boston and his bow in Berlin but that could as well as prove a cropper altogether with uncertainty also surrounding events that have been deferred to later this year.
“I had planned for the two races but as things look, even Boston that is due for September is likely to be cancelled with Berlin not being staged,” said Kirui, the 2017 Boston Marathon winner. “We can only hope and pray to God for things to change.”
Kirui, who is based in Keringet, Nakuru County, said training alone has been one of the toughest moments in his athletics career. “People are so scared… this is strange. One will even have second thoughts going to run elsewhere even when things ease,” said Kirui, who finished second in 2018 and fifth in 2019 in Boston.
It’s from his victory in Boston on that catapulted Kirui to his surprise victory in marathon at the 2017 World Championships in London.
However, he failed to defend his world title in Doha last year, settling 14th in the searing heat.