Geoffrey Kiprono Mutai will lead a stellar cast to the 116th Boston Marathon race this Sunday.
The 30-year-old Mutai returns to the United States with a double task to accomplish: defend his title and pick the bragging rights to the forthcoming Summer Olympic Games in London.
Basking in Boston and New York marathon wins and maintaining the superlative rhythm he displayed last year, Mutai is keen to prove his mettle in the world’s oldest marathon race.
Mutai, the fastest marathoner on the planet, has the Boston Marathon course record of two hours, three minutes and two seconds under his belt. It was however not recognised as a world record because Boston Marathon course does not meet international record requirements.
The soft-spoken Mutai left the country on Monday breathing fire: “I am not going to Boston Marathon to improve my time (2:03.02). That is not a priority now; I just want to win the race and earn the ticket to London Olympics.”
Athletics Kenya will on April 30 select three runners from a shortlist of six top athletes, among them Mutai, and all stand a high chance of sweeping victory in the August 12 London Games marathon showdown.
But it is a tall order for Mutai as Kenya’s 42-kilometre trailblazers take the battle to major marathons in the coming two weeks.
Moses Cheruiyot Mosop eyes the 2:03.38 world record mark in Rotterdam this weekend as two-time world champion Abel Kirui and Frankfurt Marathon winner Wilson Kipsang (2:03.42) lead a stellar line to London Marathon next week.
Mutai, who trains at Kapng’etuny Athletics Club in Uasin Gishu, said: “At the moment, I am in great shape. I only pray to be in good health and run under fine weather conditions. I hope to perform well. For it to be in Boston, it is special. I feel like I’m at home.’’
That is not bad for a boy who has ruled America’s lucrative marathons – with course records in Boston and New York (2: 05. 55) – while the New York Marathon triumph made him the first to win both that and Boston in a single year.
“It will be great for me to meet the best marathoners. I want a healthy competition,” added the first-born in a family of 11. “We have many good marathoners in Kenya but I will do my best to ensure I make the team to the Olympic Games.”
Tribute to Wanjiru
He said a successful Olympic title defence would offer “a precise honour to defending champion, the late Samuel Wanjiru.”