Eliud Kipchoge chases world record at Berlin Marathon; how to watch

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Eliud Kipchoge insists, again, it’s not his goal, but he takes another crack at the world record at the Berlin Marathon, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold coverage starts at 2:30 a.m. ET for subscribers, with NBCSN broadcast and streaming coverage at 3.

“I just want to run my personal best, which stands at 2:03:05,” Kipchoge said Tuesday, according to Reuters, his typical pre-race mindset. “If a world record also happens, that will be good enough.”

Kipchoge, the 33-year-old Olympic champion from Kenya, is expected to challenge the 26.2-mile record of 2:02:57, set by countryman Dennis Kimetto at the 2014 Berlin Marathon.

“Eliud is going there to run for a world record,” countryman and pacer Sammy Kitwara said, according to Reuters. “He is hoping to run a world record of 2:02:40 or thereabouts.”

Kipchoge has come close to the world record in Berlin before.

In 2015, Kipchoge ran 2:04:00 to win with his soles flapping out from the backs of his shoes.

In 2017, Kipchoge won Berlin in 2:03:32, surely slowed by the weather — rain and humidity on the pancake-flat roads of the German capital.

In 2016, Kipchoge clocked his personal-best marathon of 2:03:05 in London, which makes him the third-fastest marathoner ever after Kimetto and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (2:03:03).

But Kipchoge may be best known for clocking 2:00:25 in Nike’s sub-two-hour marathon attempt in May 2017 on a Formula 1 race track in Italy. The time wasn’t record-eligible, however, as Kipchoge had the benefit of pacers shuffling in and out and drinks being given to runners via mopeds.

Not counting the breaking-two attempt, Kipchoge has won eight straight marathons, which is the longest streak at the highest level of the event in at least 50 years. Other legends Abebe Bikila and Haile Gebrselassie‘s streaks topped out at six.

Though Kipchoge is a veteran, he may still be in his marathon prime at age 33 and in his 11th go at the distance.

Gebrselassie’s fastest marathon came at age 35 (in his ninth marathon); Bekele at 34 (in his fourth marathon) and Wilson Kipsang (the only man to break 2:04 four times) at 34 (in his 16th marathon).

Then there’s the course. The last six times the marathon world record was lowered, it happened in Berlin. Seven of the eight fastest times in history (on record-eligible courses) were recorded in Berlin in the last seven years.

Kipchoge would likely benefit from other fast runners pushing him. That could come in the form of Kipsang and Eritrean Zersenay Tadese, the half-marathon world-record holder, both in Sunday’s field.

Top U.S. marathoner Galen Rupp and four-time Olympic track champion Mo Farah are slated for the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7. Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor defends his New York City Marathon title Nov. 4.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”