By Myles Edwards. Reporting from Iten, Kenya.
Thousands of Kenyan athletes regard the world marathon record as the potential pinnacle of their career, the Holy Grail, the ultimate goal. It is why, just like clockwork, at 6am, 10am and 4pm you will see an abundance of runners churning out mile after mile on the red dirt roads of Iten and other Kenyan towns. Only a handful will reach such a level.
The sheer depth of Kenyan talent over the marathon distance is perhaps most comprehensively demonstrated by the fact that Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich is officially the 9th fastest ever man to run 26.2 miles, and only the 8th fastest among his countrymen. On the streets of Frankfurt on October 30th, the world record is a realistic possibility for the popular and charismatic, ‘Kipsang’:
“We as athletes have aims and expectations which become higher and more ambitious as we achieve. Now my ambition is the world marathon record.”
Kipsang explains how his role as a pacemaker has played a big role in his success but goes on to attribute his sensible yet tough approach to training as the biggest factor:
“Being a pacemaker is a crucial part of the learning process. It teaches you speed control and you have a free mind with no pressure. I always felt good and it taught me to have no fear.
“You must be clever and sensible and not just run, run, run. Training is important but training well is the key. It takes discipline and hard work. I am a very focused guy, when I want something I go out there and work hard to get it. The main thing is to live positive, if training is not going well then do not worry, it will come.”
In three days time, the city of Frankfurt could be witness to a new world marathon record. Whether or not Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich is successful on this occasion, you can be sure to see much more of this determined and personable athlete at the forefront of men’s world marathon running in the not so distant future.