BERLIN: Mark Milde, the race director of the Berlin Marathon, says the priority is on safety — rather than world records — for this Sunday’s race to ensure the expected field of 25,000 elite athletes and hobby runners make it to the finish line free of Covid-19. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, this year’s race over 42.195 kilometres (26.2 miles), will be the first of the world’s six major marathons to take place with a mass start since the coronavirus forced the cancellation of many large-scale sports events in 2020. The Berlin Marathon’s flat course has a deserved reputation for being fast as it twists through the German capital. The current official men’s world marathon record was set in Berlin three years ago when Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge ran a jaw-dropping two hours, one minute and 39 seconds. It was the eleventh time a men’s or women’s world marathon record had fallen in Berlin. This year’s elite men’s field is led by Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, who came within just two seconds of Kipchoge’s world record when the Berlin Marathon last took place in 2019. However, with Germany currently in the fourth wave of the coronavirus, for Milde and his team, the emphasis on this year’s race is less about speed and more about keeping the runners Covid-free.