Former world marathon record holder Wilson Kipsang flies out to Berlin on Wednesday with his sights firmly trained on reclaiming the record from his stablemate and compatriot Dennis Kimetto.
After the disappointment of missing out of the Rio Olympics after bagging bronze in the London Games four years back, Kipsang returned to the drawing board and stepped up his training with a view to scaling the marathon ladder once again.
In 2013, he won the Berlin Marathon in two hours, three minutes and 23 seconds to improve on compatriot Patrick Makau’s world record of 2:03:38 set on the same course two years earlier.
But the policeman’s grip of the fastest time over the 42km distance didn’t last long with his team-mate at Volare Sports Management Group, Kimetto, clocking a new world record 2:02:57 to become the first man to run a sub-2:03 marathon.
Fans in Eldoret will gather at the Shakers’ Restaurant to follow Sunday’s race at the Bank of Africa-sponsored World Marathon Majors viewing parties while in Iten, Kipsang’s own Keellu Resort will most certainly be packed to the rafters.
The Eldoret viewing party will also see athletes educated on taxation issues by the Kenya Revenue Authority with sponsors Bank of Africa offering banking and investment advice.
“My training has been good and I have finalised the hard training. I’m ready to face the other competitors and my focus will be to run my personal best and even break the world record,” Kipsang told Daily Nation Sport in his final pre-travel interview.
He assured that during his training, he felt “in great shape” adding that it is the sort of shape he enjoyed in 2013 when he broke Makau’s time.
Kipsang, who is also the president of the pressure group Professional Athletes’ Association of Kenya, is looking forward to favourable weather conditions to help him clock a sub-2:03 time. He has chalked up many wins across the globe, including the Frankfurt Marathon (2010 and 2011), Japan’s Lake Biwa Marathon (2011), London Marathon (2012 and 2014), Berlin Marathon (2013) and the New York Marathon (2014) in his first appearance.
Despite holding the previous world record, Kipsang will not be the fastest man in the Berlin field on Sunday, with Emmanuel Mutai having run a personal best 2:03:13 when he finished second behind Kimetto’s world record run in Berlin in 2014.
Other Kenyans in the field include 2013 Frankfurt Marathon winner Vincent Kipruto (2:05:13 PB), Evans Chebet (2:05:33) and 2010 Prague Marathon winner Eliud Kiptanui (2:05:21).
Mark Kiptoo (2:06:00), Alfers Lagat (2:06:58) and Sisay Lemma (2:05:16) complete the Kenyan galaxy.
Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Tsegaye Mekonnen will also be eyeing glory with Janet Rono, who has a PB of 2:26:03, headlining Kenya’s women’s entries.
She will be up against Ethiopians Aberu Kebede, the 2010 winner who is the fastest in the field with 2:20:30, Amane Beriso (2:20:48) and Birhane Dibaba (2:22:30).