Kenyan Kipchoge remains undisputed greatest-ever men’s marathon runner
JOHANNESBURG – As the current world record holder, and winner of 11 of the 12 major races in the 42.2km distance he has competed in, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge is the undisputed greatest-ever men’s marathon runner in history.
An astonishing pedigree shows Kipchoge failed to win all but one marathon he participated in, in the 2013 Berlin Marathon. In fact, it was just his second marathon after making the switch to the ‘ultimate distance’ as he also lost to countryman Wilson Kipsang who himself set a world record to take victory.
The 35-year-old also claimed Olympic gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the marathon with the largest margin of victory at the quadrennial showpiece since 1972. His triumph in 2:08:44 was a mammoth 70 seconds ahead of Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa.
Kipchoge, in addition to his 2:01:39 marathon world record he set at the Berlin Marathon in 2018, is also the only man to have broken two hours for the 42.2km distance in an unofficial attempt in Vienna last year.
Known as the Ineos159 Challenge in Vienna, Kipchoge with a series of different pacemakers clocked 1:59:40 to become the first person to break two hours for the marathon distance.
Eliud Kipchoge delivering food relief packages in the Great Rift Valley. Photo: twitter.com/Wishfmradi
Kipchoge would have been ready to defend his title at the London Marathon in April, but instead was left wondering what might have been before all races were either suspended or cancelled.
“It’s a very hard time for athletes who are following a training program,” said Kipchoge. “We have to fully accept the change. We run to raise awareness of this coronavirus.”
The 42.2km has been moved to October 4, and Kipchoge would have been the favourite for the race.
He would also have been favourite for the Tokyo Olympics this year, but the event was postponed to 2021. Kipchoge will now be 36 when the race takes place next year, but could still well be the overall favourite to take the title if he confirms his participation.
Kipchoge first hit international headlines in 2003 when he took victory in the junior World Cross Country Championships and set a junior world record in the 5000m the same year. At age 18, he claimed the 2003 World Championship title, setting a championship record time in the process.
Still competing in the 5000m at the 2004 Olympics, he claimed bronze. In total, he made five 5000m finals at the World Championships. He would go on to win 5000m silvers at the 2007 World Championships, 2008 Olympics and 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line at the 2019 London Marathon. Photo: twitter.com/EliudKipchoge
The switch to road running came in 2012, and with it came the second-fastest half marathon debut ever when he ran 59:25.
Finally he moved up to the marathon in 2013, winning the Hamburg Marathon in a course record. The rest is history, and whether the Kenyan legend is finished rewriting the record brooks is highly doubtful.