Kenenisa Bekele Just Misses Kipchoge's WR With 2:01:41 In Berlin

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Out of nowhere, the gulf between Eliud Kipchoge and another top marathoner has shrunk to just two seconds: On Sunday in Berlin, 37-year-old Kenenisa Bekele ran 2:01:41 to miss Kipchoge's world record by a slim two seconds. Bekele nearly eclipsed the record that Kipchoge set last year on the very same course.

To call Bekele’s time a shock would be to undersell its randomness. The Ethiopian is one of the greatest distance runners in history by any metric — he has 20 global gold medals to prove as much — but a 2:01 marathon was thought to only be Kipchoge territory. Add in the fact that Bekele hadn’t won a marathon in three years and this result is truly mystifying. That previous victory was his 2:03:03 personal best from Berlin in 2016.

Now it is Kipchoge and Bekele in the esteemed 2:01 club, with more than a minute between them and the next best marathoner at 2:02:55.

Bekele hit halfway in 61:05, a second faster than Kipchoge split a year ago when he set the record. Bekele can credit countryman Birhanu Legese for pacing much of his effort on Sunday, as Legese was unbelievably 13 seconds up on Bekele at 35K — just over four miles to go. But the 5,000m and 10,000m world record holder caught his challenger at 38K, and by 40K he had put a comfortable 30 seconds on Legese.

Bekele’s second half was 60:36, three seconds off the transcendent final 13.1 miles produced by Kipchoge in 2018.

The timing of this performance — the 2019 IAAF World Championships are going on right now — and Bekele’s recent struggles in the marathon meant that such a run has blindsided the running world. Bekele's previous attempt at the distance, nearly a year ago in Amsterdam, saw him drop out with just minutes until the finish line. He hadn’t raced at all in 2019 before Sunday.

With just 13 days until the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, we won’t have to wait long for Kipchoge’s response to this challenge. Of course, his run in Austria won’t be world record-eligible as he tries to become the first man to break two hours in the marathon, but he’ll run for history knowing that his title as the best marathoner in the world just became a lot less certain.

I don’t think anyone saw that coming on Sunday.

In the women’s race, Ashete Bekere of Ethiopia ran 2:20:14 to get the win. Mare Dibaba finished second in 2:20:21. American Sara Hall ran 2:22:16 — a personal best by over four minutes to place fifth. Hall’s time moves her to sixth all-time on the U.S. women’s marathon list behind Deena Kastor, Jordan Hasay, Shalane Flanagan, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Amy Cragg. Sara Hall is scheduled to run the New York City Marathon on November 3. 

Fellow American Sally Kipyego was seventh in 2:25:10. 

The Best Of AAU Track & Field To Watch During Quarantine

Stuck at home looking for sports to watch? FloTrack has you covered with thousands of videos from years of AAU Track & Field competition. Checkout the links below to rewatch AAU Junior Olympic Games replays as well as some of the exclusive video profiles on AAU athletes. Don't forget to download the FloSports apps to watch on the big screen!

Which Round-Number Barriers Will Fall Next?

Track and field, like all sports, is hibernating at the moment, giving plenty of room for idle thoughts. The present situation is dire, but I’ve tried to periodically distract myself with what the running world will look like when the racing resumes. One concept that’s always been interesting to me is round number records. The most famous of which, the four-minute mile, is run with such regularity now that its significance is lessened with each passing decade. Instead, I’m looking at that next set of barriers that help usher in a new digit to an event. 

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True Crime Doc On Nike Racing Shoes Coming To Netflix

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Fans of Netflix’s true crime hit Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness have been captivated by the colorful characters, shady dealings and blood-thirsty nature of the big cat industry. The story of eccentric zookeeper Joe Exotic and his various animal associates has enthralled millions across the globe with its revelations of a murder-for-hire plot, copious polygamy, the rumor of a husband fed to a tiger and one dangling eyebrow piercing. 

A Possible Explanation For Britney Spears' "5.97 100m" Post

Last Thursday, Britney Spears of all people gave quarantined track fans some much needed entertainment: the 38-year-old Toxic singer (Toxic is the best Britney song, this isn’t up for debate) claimed, in a confusing and since-deleted Instagram post, that she ran 100 meters in 5.97 seconds.

IOC Sets New Dates For The 2021 Olympics

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New dates have officially been set for the postponed Olympics. The 2021 Games will be held July 23-August 8, 2021.

How To Watch Track & Field During Quarantine This Week (3/30-4/05)

If you're as bummed out by all the COVID-19 cancelations as we are, you're in luck, because FloTrack is going to do something about it! FloTrack, and the entire FloSports network, have a plan to continue bringing high-quality, relevant and timely content to subscribers and fans while showcasing our incredible archive of live sporting event broadcasts.

Three More Diamond League Meetings Postponed

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Rescheduling Olympic Games Like "A Huge Jigsaw Puzzle" Says Bach

It's like the classic question in physics: What happens when an unstoppable force collides with an immovable object?

Watch Matthew Boling's 10.20 100m

Matthew Boling's magnificent showing at the 2019 Texas Relays was a highlight of his incredible senior year. Here's his wind-aided 10.20 100m victory. 

The Very Abbreviated 2020 Track And Field Awards

Even without the Olympics, track and field in some form may still happen in 2020. But given how difficult containing the coronavirus has proven to be, that is not a guarantee even with several months before certain Diamond League meets are set to be contested. And now that the biggest event on the calendar has been postponed, many athletes may choose to throw in the towel on 2020 in order to preserve themselves for next year. As such, it is entirely possible we’ve seen the last of track and field this season.

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