by John Kwoba
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Can Olympic
marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge be beaten? It has been the
question in the past six years as the Kenyan has obliterated his
rivals in 11 races.
On Sunday, along the streets of
London, marathon fans will keenly watch as the mighty Kenyan
goes to the start line for his first competitive outing since
shattering the marathon world record seven months ago.
The answer, on paper at least, is a resounding ‘no’.
Kipchoge’s winning time of 2:01:39 in Berlin in September 2018
carved 78 seconds out of the previous world mark, removing any
doubt that he is the greatest marathon runner of all time.
Add to Kipchoge’s intimidating 11 wins out of 12, which
includes the 2016 Olympic title and three victories in London,
Sunday’s race begins to sound like a foregone conclusion.
Not even the presence of a fast-improving Mo Farah of
Britain, who is now world No. 7 and fresh from his maiden
marathon victory in Chicago, world No. 4 and last year’s London
runner-up Shura Kitata of Ethiopia, or the only man to beat
Kipchoge in marathon Wilson Kipsang of Kenya, seem to suggest
any realistic scenario other than a Kipchoge triumph in The
But Kipchoge, the World Athlete of the Year and world number
one in the marathon, is not buying it.
Although he is more than happy with his pre-race preparations
at home in Kenya, he is far too humble to believe in his own
invincibility, insisting his philosophy in life is not to dwell
on past achievements but focus on the future.
"Sport is about competition and anybody can be beaten," he
"Mo Farah can beat me and the others can beat me.
"The best thing is if you just accept this.
"That is the only way to enjoy the sport."
"It’s good to forget what you have achieved and concentrate
on what you want.
"So, what I have achieved in the past is different with what
I want on Sunday.
"I want to make sure that I win, to show that all that I have
been doing in the previous years comes out of the humbleness and
the hard work in training," he added.
Despite the other candidates, it is Kipchoge’s quest to
become the first man to win four London titles that has set
pulses racing ahead of this year’s event, not least because of
the potential of a mouth-watering head-to-head with
His breakthrough Chicago Marathon win six months ago in a
European record time of 2:05:11 places him on an upward
trajectory as he approaches only his fourth race over 42km.
He pitched his camp in Ethiopia to prepare for London.
"Marathon is completely different with the track and since
racing against Eliud in London last year, having learned the
hard way, I believe that I’ve learned a lot," Farah said.
"With each race you do get better.
"You get a bit more experience.
"After winning in Chicago, training has gone well and I’m
just enjoying it."
Kipchoge’s three previous London wins have come in 2:04:42 in
2015, a course record of 2:03:05 in 2016 and 2:04:17 in 2018.
In fact, no fewer than seven athletes in Sunday’s field have
a superior personal best to Farah, including Kenya’s former
world record holder Wilson Kipsang and five Ethiopian athletes.
Among the Ethiopian contingent, Kitata finished 92 seconds
ahead of Farah to take second place in last year’s London race
by sticking to Kipchoge’s coat tails until three miles to go.
He is far from fazed by Sunday’s rematch.
"I will try to beat Eliud this year," said 22-year-old Kitata,
who is 12 years younger than Kipchoge.
"Last year I ran side-by-side with him, but this time I won’t
just follow him.
"This year, God help me, I will beat him," he added.
Top four women take on
London marathon course
by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Four Kenyan women led by defending champion
Vivian Cheruiyot, Mary Keitany, Brigid Kosgei and Gladys Cherono
agree that there is no clear favorite among them when they line
up on Sunday for the London marathon.
The four current major marathon champions in the line-up -
Cheruiyot (London), Keitany (New York), Kosgei (Chicago) and
Cherono (Berlin) - have all but one request to make Tokyo
Olympics in 2020.
That journey starts in London on Sunday.
However, the quartet are full of mutual admiration and would
let their legs do the talking on Sunday.
"We are all sisters, some training together and we love each
"Marathon is an individual sport and we will try to play by
the rule and see the strongest pull away.
"But there is the challenge from Ethiopia and all other
runners, we can’t allow complacency creep in our minds,"
Cheruiyot said on Friday.
Cheruiyot, world number two in marathon, ran a perfectly
judged race in London last year to overtake Keitany, who paid
the price for running with male pacemakers in the opening half
as she went in pursuit of Paula Radcliffe’s world record of
2:15:25. She eventually faded to a weary fifth.
"I am here to win and I don’t care who is in the race.
"I run my own race as Vivian and the rest have their own
strategy," Cheruiyot said.
Keitany, who turned the tables on Cheruiyot by winning her
fourth New York title in November and is currently ranked world
23, is not obsessing about the clock this time and has her eyes
set on equaling Norwegian Ingrid Kristiansen’s record of four
Cheruiyot is a relative marathon novice following a
glittering career on the track and feels there is plenty of room
Having lowered her personal best at the Lisbon Half Marathon
in March, she sees no reason why she cannot improve on her
marathon best of 2:18:31, which she clocked in London a year
"My shape is better than last year and if the weather is
good, I know I’m going to run my personal best," she said.
"In Lisbon it was hard because I was all alone pushing the
"In London we are happy to have pacesetters.
"That course record can be beaten."
Cherono, world No. 13, completed a hat-trick of Berlin
victories last year with a personal best of 2:18:11.
She is also confident about her shape and believes the
women’s world record of 2:17:01, set by Keitany in London two
years ago, could well come under threat on Sunday if the weather
Kosgei, world No. 4 and last year’s runner-up, is the fourth
quickest in the field after clocking 2:18:35 to win in Chicago.
She has also shown outstanding half-marathon form in recent
months, smashing her personal best in Houston and then lowering
it further in Bahrain.
She has chalked up five victories and three runner-up spots
in her nine marathons to date and could well be one to watch.
With sub-2:20 Ethiopians Roza Dereje and Birhane Dibaba also
in contention, the race looks wide open.
At 25, Kosgei holds the future of women marathon in Kenya,
will she prevail against her seniors in London? Only the race on
Sunday tells the answer.