So Patrick Makau Musyoki is the man of the moment, his brand new world marathon record – two hours, three minutes and 38 seconds – the talk in global sport.
But spare a thought for the men, the unsung heroes, who made it happen... the pacemakers, or “rabbits” in athletics parlance.
In celebrating Makau’s brilliant run, only athletics purists will recognise the fact that a Kenyan “rabbit” shattered a world record in Sunday’s 38th BMW Berlin Marathon that, unfortunately, will not stand.
Another “rabbit”, Stephen Kwelio Chemlany, stuck with Makau after the 27th kilometre breakaway and was rewarded with a second-place finish after clocking 2.07.55.
Makau’s 30km split of 1:27:38 was clearly better than the previous 1:27:49 world mark by Haile Gebrselassie from the Berlin race in 2009.
Brilliantly executed job
So it was two world records for Makau on Sunday.
But it’s a pity that one of the designated pacers in Berlin, Peter Kirui, dropped out after completing his brilliantly executed job at the 32km mark as, had he completed the race, he would be boasting a world record himself.
Kirui, the national 10,000m champion, was ahead of Makau at the 30km point but his split at that point is not recognised since he did not finish the race.
Interestingly, it was Kirui’s first major assignment as a pacesetter, the Administration Police runner having competed for Kenya at the recent World Championships in Daegu where he finished sixth in a personal best time of 27:25.63.
Kirui has been a regular feature in Kenyan road races, having dominated the Safaricom Gusii Golden Series in 2009.
“We congratulate the pacesetters for the great job they did in Berlin, and although they are often forgotten, we recognise their contribution and that’s why we take the road races in our calendar seriously,” Athletics Kenya secretary David Okeyo said while congratulating Makau.
Meanwhile, Makau says he knew exactly how to shed off Gebrselassie on his was to victory on Sunday, running in a zig-zag fashion that caught the Ethiopian legend off-guard.
“It is one of my tactics. I did some zig-zags, to confuse him,” said the 26-year-old Makau.
“I had a lot of energy, and wanted to tire him. He was trying to use me, to maintain the pace, and I wanted to run alone, either behind him or to the side, so I did a zig-zag to one side and he followed, I did it to the other side, and the next time, I couldn’t see him.”
Florence Kiplagat, the 2009 World Cross Country champion, who had dropped out of her only previous marathon, in Boston in April, was equally impressive in her first marathon victory in only her second race.
At Boston last April she ran through half-way in 1:11:42 and recorded her final split at 30km in 1:42:59 before dropping out.
The Iten runner was elated at her breakthrough: “I have some problems wearing spikes (spiked running shoes), so I won’t be running on the track or doing cross country anymore. I’m a marathoner now!”
Gebrselassie declined to attend the press conference, to explain his forfeit, but his manager Jos Hermens said that while it may be “the end of an era, of record breaking for Haile, it’s not the end of his career.
“He might have to run Dubai (third week in January). He can still run 2.05.”