The Kenyans are coming – and this time with real intent. And for the first time since 1988, Thompson Magawana’s Old Mutual Two Oceans record of 3 hours 3 min 44 sec, which has stood for 31 years, looks vulnerable.
Kenyans are not new to Two Oceans – John Wachira won way back in 2009 and 25-year-old Justin Kemboi Chesire came from nowhere to clinch victory last year, which was as unexpected as it was decisive. But the anticipated full-on assault on the Two Oceans record from the best runners on the planet has been absent. Until now.
And in the 50th edition of the “World’s Most Beautiful Marathon”, where the elite field is sprinkled with talented debutants, the name of Abraham Kiprotich shines like a beacon. Running in the colours of France – Kiprotich opted to claim citizenship from that country after serving in the French Foreign Legion – the 33-year-old travels to Cape Town with impeccable marathoning credentials and is on a mission to finally bury Magawana’s record and claim the R1 million bonus on offer.
Kiprotich will be racing Oceans just five months after placing third in the Istanbul Marathon in 2:10:55 – just 20 seconds off Magawana’s marathon best at the time won Two Oceans in 1987 in 3:05:31 and a year later when he broke the record a second time.
But Kiprotich’s marathon life best of 2:08:33 is more than two minutes faster – set at the Daegu Marathon in Korea in April 2013, suggesting that the French Kenyan is the real deal in his quest for Two Oceans glory. There is little doubting his pedigree – his older brother, Paul Kipkoech, won gold in the 10 000m at the 1987 World Championships when Kiprotich was just two years old.