Tokyo king Kipsang trains his guns on Keiyo South race

Kenya's Wilson Kipsang (L) and his compatriot Gideon Kipketer (R) celebrate after crossing the finish ...
Kenya's Wilson Kipsang (L) and his compatriot Gideon Kipketer (R) celebrate after crossing the finish line in the men's category of the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo on February 26, 2017. PHOTO/KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP

After smashing the Tokyo Marathon record to smithereens in another masterclass of front running on Sunday, Wilson Kipsang has set sights on his opponents in the race for the Keiyo South Parliamentary seat during the August 8 General Election.

And should he summon the force that saw him become the first and only marathoner on the planet to dip under 2:04 for the fourth time in his storied career, then those facing the two-time London, New York, Berlin and now Tokyo winner at the ballot need to be very afraid of the onslaught.

Kipsang is attempting to dislodge incumbent Keiyo South legislator Jackson Kiptanui at the August polls, promising among other things to free his potential constituents from the shackles of State dependency and eliminating poverty.

“Thanks to everyone for your support and prayers. I finally made to the finish line first with a time of 2:03:58.breaking the course record and running the fastest time ever in Japan in addition being the first runner in the world to have run four races under 2:04 and also four races under 2:05.

“Race one is over and it’s now time to plan on how to win race two which is to parliament. My success is your success may the glory and honour be to God,” Kipsang wrote to the WhatsApp group dedicated to his campaign moments after his trail blazing victory at the Japanese capital.

Until the 30K mark, Kipsang, deposed Tokyo record holder and 2015 Chicago winner, Dickson Chumba and the designated rabbits were well inside the 2:02:57 world record set by Volare Sports stable-mate and former training partner, Dennis Kimetto.

However, according to the former world marathon record holder, slight headwind saw the world record bid collapse between the 30K and 35K mark, run in 15:00, the slowest split of the race that nonetheless made history despite the setback.

“I pushed really hard at the end, because I could see that a 2:03 marathon was still a possibility,” he said of his monumental effort after crossing 40K with the world record gone.

Kipsang covered the final 2.195km in 6:29 to beat the 2:04 barrier for the fourth time in his career. No other runner has more than two.

He also increased his sub-2:05 performance count to eight; no one else has more than five. His sub-2:06 tally is also eight to top that category as well.



At 34 and having been beaten to the tape by Ethiopian track legend, Kenenisa Bekele in Berlin last year where the winner missed Kimetto’s world record by only seven seconds (2:03:05), there were questioned about Kipsang’s ability to bounce back to the apex of elite marathon running.

However, even in defeat, Kipsang still blazed to his lifetime best of 2:03:13 that was 10 seconds faster than his world record from 2014 (2:03:23) and that is what gave him the encouragement he could own the standard once more.

“I have not lost hope to keep trying. I tried recently and missed by 13 seconds and if I make the next try, there is a possibility. I ran in 2011 and missed. I ran in 2013, yes! If I keep the spirit of working hard and having the passion to break the record, in no time, we shall have a new record,” Kipsang said before going to Tokyo.

Putting together the kind of performance as Sunday’s according to him requires meticulous preparations and it is this ability he is willing to tap on in his bid to be elected as Keiyo South MP in August.

“I have planned and executed a world record, course record and fastest times before and it is the same discipline, hard work, commitment and passion I’m going to put into my campaigns to serve my people,” Kipsang who was inspired by fellow athlete and 2012 Boston champion, Wesley Korir (Cherangany MP) and two-term parliamentarian, Elijah Lagat another past Boston winner to join politics.

“I have been the chairman of many things including the Professional Athletes Association of Kenya and people have always called me to serve and if the people of Keiyo South do so in August, then I shall serve them to the best of my ability.

“They know what I have done for them and having travelled to many cities and countries where things work as they should, I have an idea of what needs to be done to rid my people of poverty,” the 2012 Olympics bronze medallist underscored.

His run for parliament rules out participation in Team Kenya’s marathon team for London Worlds in August, with the election coming only four days before the date slated for the men’s marathon on the final day of the global showpiece on August 12.

It is the only tinge of regret for the man who is pursuing a degree in Investigations and Criminology having unfinished business from the Beijing 2015 Worlds where he and Kimetto failed to arrive at the finish having gone as overwhelming favourites.

Kipsang who is also eying a fall marathon will however, not stop training or sticking to the regime that has set him apart from his peers in the ultimate distance running with his appetite for more records in the sport not about to end soon.

“If you try to do what you have been doing, rest, discipline, training hard, making sure you run the right times, you get there because the body is a just matter of training. Many guys train and run very well and thereafter, they don’t do the same things they did,” he explained his admirable longevity in a sport that has a huge turn over.

-Chepchirchir stunner-

Kenya's Sarah Chepchirchir (C, #55) crosses the finish line in the women's category of the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo on February 26, 2017. PHOTO/KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP
Kenya’s Sarah Chepchirchir (C, #55) crosses the finish line in the women’s category of the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo on February 26, 2017. PHOTO/KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP

It was a perfect day from Kenya in Tokyo when Sarah Chepchirchir came from nowhere to run to the Japanese all comers record of 2:19 to seal the Kenyan double.

Chepchirchir, 32, is now eying inclusion in the Kenyan team for London and on the evidence of her strong performance, Athletics Kenya selectors must have taken strong notice of her ability.

“After 30 kilometres when the pacemakers dropped out,” she told the IAAF, “I was planning to increase the pace.”

The little-known Chepchirchir, 32, forged on to join the elite sub-2:20 club, her 2:19:47 elevating her to the No. 16 spot among marathoners all-time. It was a remarkable showing for Chepchirchir, who entered the race with a 2:24:13 lifetime best.

Like Kipsang’s performance, hers was also a Tokyo race record and a Japanese all-comers record, marks held previously by Helah Kiprop at 2:21:27 and Mizuki Noguchi at 2:21:18, respectively.

“I am convinced that this time is good enough to be selected for the Kenyan World Championships team,” Chepchirchir said.

-Material from the IAAF used in this report

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Story By Mutwiri Mutuota
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