Kenya’s fastest marathon runners Geoffrey Mutai and Mary Keitany will both skip the World Athletics Championship in Daegu, South Korea, in August.
But that does not in any way water down Kenya’s representation at the World Marathon Championship. With about 80 road runners in the top 100, Kenya will never have a dearth in talent.
Both Berlin Marathon champion Patrick Makau and New York Marathon winner Edna Kiplagat have consented to the call to represent the country in Daegu in August.
Athletics Kenya named a provisional 20-member strong team that included top ranked athletes in the 42km distance. They had up to on Wednesday evening to confirm their interest or forfeit their slots to other deserving runners.
According to Athletics Kenya Public relations Officer Peter Angwenyi, only those who will have put in a formal confirmation and have the highest time would be considered in the final five men and five women who will travel to Daegu, where Kenya will be seeking to defend both the men’s and women’s crown which were won by Abel Kirui and Catherine Ndereba respectively.
But with huge financial rewards and a chance to make history, Mutai (2:03:02) and Keitany (2:19.17) have opted to rule themselves out as they seek personal fulfilment, with the aim of setting new world records on the agenda for both.
Attempting the world record
“I will not be running in Daegu at the World Championship. I may not be an authority in marathon races, but I believe the two races I have competed in are enough to enable me attempt to break the world record. My manager is looking for a race, presumable a flat one where I can make this attempt,” Keitany said.
Mutai, on the other hand, is yet to get over the death of his training mate Peter Kiprotich Cherus, and has not started training. However, he has ruled himself out as he focuses on running in another big city marathon where he can set a world record.
Mutai holds the fastest time in marathon (2:03.02), which he set in Boston in April, but was not certified as a world record. Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie’s 2:03.59 stands as the world record.
However, both Boston Marathon bronze medallist Sharon Cherop and Kiplagat have agreed to represent the country in Daegu. Makau will also be in Daegu at the expense of defending his crown in the German capital.
Others named in the team are Caroline Kilel (2:22.36) winner in Boston, Paris Marathon winner Priscah Jeptoo, Lydia Cheromei, Philes Ongori, Caroline Rotich, Agnes Kiprop and Alice Timbilil, who triumphed in the Amsterdam Marathon course.
The men’s team has Mosop, London Marathon champion Emmanuel Mutai (2:04.40), Rotterdam marathon winner Wilson Chebet, Vincent Kipruto, Martin Lel, Wilson Kiprotich, Benjamin Kiptoo and Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot.
AK is expected to announce the final 10 athletes – five men and five women – plus the reserve athletes on Thursday.
Keitany, who set the fastest time in over two years when she triumphed in London in 2:19.17, has put Britain’s Paula Radcliffe on notice over her world record time of 2:15:25, which she registered in London in 2003.