Why Kiptum was poised to break the 2hr mark at Rotterdam marathon

Wednesday, February 14th, 2024 02:03 | By
Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum crosses the finish line to win this year’s Chicago Marathon and set a new World Record on Sunday. PHOTO/Kevin Morris
Kenya’s Kelvin Kiptum crosses the finish line to win this year’s Chicago Marathon and set a new World Record. PHOTO/Kevin Morris

Kelvin Kiptum who tragically died on Sunday night following a car accident in Uasin Gishu, just five days after his astonishing marathon world record was ratified by World Athletics, had enjoyed a remarkable 2023, breaking the men’s marathon world record, and he was fully focused to run the first sub-two-hour marathon in Rotterdam on April 14.

On October 8, running in just his third marathon, Kiptum took 34 seconds off the previous record in winning the Chicago Marathon in two hours and 35 seconds. He also won the London Marathon in April in 2:01:25, which at the time was the second-fastest time ever for a marathon.

On December 29, 2023 just before the turn of the year, when asked what was next in his sights, Kiptum told Gazzetta dello Sport: “It’s already known, the Rotterdam Marathon on April 14.

“I would like to grow further, and so, inevitably, break the barrier.”

Kiptum has his reasons for choosing Rotterdam as his next marathon. The course is known as one of the fastest in the world as it is a flat course and in the past, no fewer that three world records have been set there and his handlers may have seen the advantages and high possibilities of the athlete to make new history.

“The organisation is linked to my management,” Kiptum said.
“In 2022 I was supposed to run it, to make my debut but a slight injury stopped me. This will be the right time.”

“I’ll go there to run fast, the course is ideal and the crowds in the streets push you to give your best. I would love to be a part of the rich history of this marathon.

“If the preparation goes in the right direction, with peaks of 270 kilometres per week, and the weather conditions permit, I will go for it.”

Kipchoge, the two-time Olympic champion, had set the previous mark of 2:01:09 at the 2022 Berlin Marathon.

Kiptum had improved his personal best by 50 seconds to smash the world record in Chicago, one of several statistics highlighting the remarkable performance by the then 23-year-old.

The Kenyan had been on world record pace after 10km of the race, after going through the opening two 5km splits in 14.26 and 14.16.

He had initially been joined by seven other runners, with Kiptum reaching the half-marathon mark in a time of 1:00.48.

Kiptum then continued his trend of producing a negative split in the marathon - running the second half quicker than the first.

He pulled away from compatriot Daniel Mateiko to go solo after 30km, before producing his fastest spilt of of the race.

Kiptum achieved a 5km split of 13:51 to reach the 35km checkpoint, running 39 seconds faster than Kipchoge did in his record setting run at the same stage of the race.

The split set Kiptum up to achieve the world record time of 2:00:35.

Kiptum’s time meant the Kenyan averaged 2:51 per kilometre, covering each 100m of the race in just over 17 seconds.

His staggering time further raised the prospect that a sub two hour marathon could be achieved in legal conditions.

Kipchoge had become the first man to break the two hour barrier, acheiving a time of 1:59:40 in the 2019 Ineos 1:59 challenge. 

The Kenyan great had been supported by rotating pacemakers in a controlled enviroment in Vienna, meaning the feat was not recognised as a world record by World Athletics.

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