A herdsboy who had little hope in life, Dennis Kimetto’s fortunes have greatly improved thanks to his distance running triumphs.
Kimetto first burst into the limelight in 2011 when he won the half marathon race at the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon and today, the 20-year-old is tipped to add the Boston Marathon title to his growing collection of big city marathon accolades.
Snapped up by Dutch manager Gerard van de Veen, Kimetto defeated his Volare Sports stable-mate, world record holder Wilson Kipsang, to win his first major international race, the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in 60 minutes and 40 seconds.
Kimetto, a full-time farmer who recently moved into his freshly-constructed, four-bedroom maisonette at Kipkorgot in Eldoret, then shattered the world 25km record in Berlin, clocking 71:15.
A course record in Tokyo (2:06.50) was to follow in 2013, and later in the year, Kimetto raced to another course record in winning the Chicago Marathon (2:03.45), also last year.
“If there is anyone who will break the world marathon record, then it is Dennis,” van de Veen said.
And managing both Kipsang and Kimetto, the Dutchman, who travelled directly to Boston after witnessing his charge Kipsang lower the London Marathon course record a week ago, holds a lot of water with his every comment.
Arien Verkade, Volare’s athletes’ representative, described the conditions in Boston as “cold and windy.”
“Let’s hope the weather will change something the coming days,” he added with fast times predicted on the course yet another Volare athlete, New York Marathon champion, Geoffrey Mutai, ran a blistering world’s fastest unofficial time of 2:03.02 three years ago. Clubs and restaurants in Eldoret and Iten will be packed for the traditionally keenly-followed broadcast to the Boston Marathon which will celebrate its first edition after last year’s bomb attack.
DINNER WITH CHAMPIONS
In the build-up to today’s race, Kimetto and other Kenyan stars visited Boston schools and attended a pre-race press conference at the Fairmont Copley Plaza.
Meanwhile, Kenya-born Dutch multiple distance champion Lornah Kiplagat has been selected for the inaugural “Bingwa” Lifetime Achievement Award to be awarded on the eve of the race at the “Dinner with Champions” gala in Boston.
Kiplagat, a three time World Road Running champion, is the custodian of two world records in 5km and 10 miles.
Her 20km and half marathon records were recently snatched off by village-mate Florence Kiplagat in Barcelona last month.
In addition to her performance as an athlete, Kiplagat, who stands as the first and only woman to win Falmouth Road Race and Peachtree Road Race three times in a row (2000, 2001 and 2002), recently opened Kenya’s only individually-owned tartan track at her Lornah Kiplagat Sports Academy in Iten.
“Kiplagat represents the future of Kenyan athletes with her selfless efforts to nurture and support talent in her country,” Run with Kenyans chief executive officer Wilson Wahome told Nation Sport via e-mail.
“We are awarding her charitable and big-hearted efforts so that other athletes would feel appreciated and join hands in making the country stand tall in global charts as a powerhouse,” added Wahome.
In this drive, athletes are urged to establish opportunities that directly benefit their locals and which they will be remembered with when they are off track.
Dinner with Champions is held to honor elite runners who run in the Boston Marathon and is a joint effort between the Kenyan community in Boston and the embassy in DC.
Ruth Kilungu, a resident of Boston since 2007 says the occasion is a great take where Kenyans in diaspora get the feeling of celebrating what their mother country is good at-athletics.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga presided the first “Dinner with Champions” in April 2011.
Among the chief guests this year will be Kenya’s ambassador in USA, Jean Kamau.