Monday, August 24, 2009

Marathon champ now trains sights on world record

By ELIAS MAKORI

Kenya’s new world marathon champion, Abel Mutai, says he will now run a world record two hours, three minutes and 30 seconds next year, as he had planned earlier, after recovering from his golden run at the world championships.

The confident champion – born on June 4, 1982 and who comes from Samitui village of Nandi district – said at the famous Brandenburg Gate - the starting and finishing point of the race - that he will go back home, rest and decide whether to run in the Dubai Marathon or next year’s London Marathon before assaulting Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie’s world record on 2:03.59 set at the Berlin Marathon last September.

“I need to have proper preparations before taking on this title and this is my next main aim, to run 2:03.30 next year. Right now I need my body to relax, get some massage and then slowly get into world record shape,” he said after winning the world championship gold in a new championship record of 2:06.54.

The Kenyans were defending the title won by Prisons officer Luke Kibet in Osaka two years ago. Kibet did not make the team to Berlin.

The atmosphere was great with a crowd count of 700,000 spectators following the race under the sunny conditions on the streets of the German capital.

It was a Kenyan 1-2 finish as 2007 Amsterdam Marathon champion Emmanuel Mutai took the silver in 2:07.48 with Ethiopia’s Tsegay Kebede, bronze medallist at the Beijing Olympics, added another bronze to his collection by taking the final podium place in 2:08.35.

Four times Boston Marathon champion, Kenya’s Robert Cheruiyot (2:10.46), one of the pre-race favourites, was fifth behind another Ethiopian Yemane Tsegay (2;08.42).

Kenya won the overall title – the World Marathon Cup – by accumulating six hours, 25 minutes and 28 seconds from the top three finishers.

Benjamin Kiptoo dropped out while Daniel Rono was unfortunate to pick up an injury before the race in training.

Unlike the traditions straight course, yesterday’s was run on four 10-kilometre loops around the streets of Berlin.

Kirui was always confident coming into this race. Three days before the race, he told journalists here: “We (Kenyans) will stay with the rest until the 35-kilometre mark and then from there the battle starts.”

The script was very much as he had planned, as the 27-year-old Administration Police officer, who started running at Samitui Primary School, stayed in touch to the 35-kilometre mark where he made his move.

“Every athlete needs a perfect start and I started well ,” he said. “After 10 kilometres, we were still in a group and we didn’t know who among us would push first,” he described the race. “The same was the case after 20 kilometres.”

Kirui’s split times were 15 minutes and 10 seconds (in fifth place after five kilometres), 30:09 (ninth place at 10km), 44.58 (seventh after 15km), 59.42 (second place after 20km), 1:03.03 (joint leader at half marathon stage).

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