Having shot to prominence in 2011 when he destroyed the field in a gun to tape performance that powered him to the junior World Cross title, Kipsang has only taken a short time to turn to the most difficult race on earth — marathon.
His three career marathons thus far have returned impressive performances with a couple of third finishes in Berlin in 2012 and 13 as well as fourth in Rotterdam last year with the clock stopping at 2:06:12 (PB), 2:06:26 and 2:09:12 in that order.
“My next aim is to go to Tokyo and target to run under 2:06 and if it’s possible, I will see whether I can be entered to compete in Chicago later in the year,” the latest in a long production line of distance running talent in Kenya underscored.
At only 21, why did the athlete who prefers front running fore go a career on track to compete in the most arduous race known to man?
“It is a decision I made in consultation with my coach and manager since the truth is I do not have fast times to compete with the very best on track,” he said.
“There are also more career possibilities in half and full marathon as opposed to track races that are getting fewer every day,” the stud added.
Despite his emergence as a force in marathon running, Kipsang is all too aware he is a pace behind the cream of Kenya’s best that have made running under the feared 2:04 barrier in recent times a commonplace occurrence.
“I know it’s not possible for me to run in the 2:04 region for now, maybe in a year or two. I still have a lot to run and competing with the likes of (Wilson) Kipsang, Geoffrey (Mutai) and Emmanuel (Mutai) has taught me a lot,” he explained.
Last September, he trailed compatriots Kipsang (2:03:24, WR) and Eliud Kipchoge (2:04:05) across the line for third in Berlin, a race he points out as an example he is not the finished article yet.
“For some time in Berlin, I ran together with them but when Kipsang picked the pace, I could not go with him and soon, Eliud also left me. I need to sharpen my training to have that energy to finish fast and they advice me on how to train for it,” he postulated.
Kipsang was encouraged by his games teacher, a Ruto, to start taking running as a career opportunity in 2008 when he was in his third year at Lelboinet Secondary School.
“I was keen in other sports especially playing football but when I was in Form 3, our games teacher approached me to run during our school’s competition. He managed to convince me as he kept telling me he had seen I had the ability to be a good runner,” Kipsang disclosed how he got into the sport.
After leaving school the following year, Kipsang joined a training camp in Chepkorio where he was spotted by Finnish manager, Mirka Jukka, towards the end of 2009.
Despite failing to make the 2010 Bydgoszcz World Cross and Moncton World Juniors teams, Kipsang was busy on the European circuit with 11 races spread over 1500m, 3000m and 5000m.
Upon his return home, he joined Global Sports camp under the management of Jos Hermens.
“There were some issues with my manager during my stay in Finland and I felt we could not continue the relationship,” he explained at the time.
-By Kimathi Kamau