Mutai prophesies a 2:00 marathon


NAIROBI, Kenya, April 19- Fresh from obliterating London Marathon’s two-year course record on Sunday, Emmanuel Mutai forecasts it’s only a matter of time before a Kenyan runs a 2:00:00 marathon.

The London champion whose processional win at the first World Marathon Majors (WMM) race of the year was capped by a 2:04:40 career best, was reacting to compatriot Geoffrey Mutai jaw-dropping 2:03:02 performance at Boston a day later.

“If we prepare ourselves, I have the confidence we can break that world record. I see two hours,” he said upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Tuesday morning en route to Eldoret where a grand reception awaited for the country’s latest distance running heroes.

His namesake’s frontier shattering Boston show will however, not erase Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie’s recognised 2:03:59 standing world record despite the fact it was a whooping 57 seconds inside the all time best.

The Boston course has more than three times the elevation drop permitted by IAAF rules for record-setting, and the start and finish have too great a separation.

Reflecting on London, the runner who carried the tag of the nearly man in international marathon running pre-race after being led to the altar thrice in major events expressed delight at finally shedding that monkey off his back.

“For now, I’m quite happy for what I did in the last few days. When I was going to London, I had focused this year will different from other years. I had tried several times to win, coming second and fourth.

“This time I was very sure, I had done good training, I was not having any difficulties and I was confident in myself.”

Mutai added: “Last year in New York, I was very much stronger but in the last few kilometres, I had some muscle cramps and had to give up so after that, I came home and went for massage and resumed training but I had this feeling this year would be better.”

Abel Kirui (2009 World Championships Berlin) and Ethiopians Tsegay Kebede (2010 London) and Gebregzhiabher Gebremariam (2010 New York) led Mutai to the altar before Sunday’s breakthrough.

He explained how he altered his training slightly to suit the relatively flat London course.

“I did less hill work and more flat course running and this helped me. For now, I have not decided anything since there is the World Championships, Berlin, Chicago and New York marathons to think about.”

Mutai says the concentration in training and competition is the key to Kenyan recent dominance at marathon races. “We came to learn if we were not serious; the Ethiopians would be more competitive since for long they were dominating.”
On his course record breaking act that erased Olympic champion’s Samuel Wanjiru’s 2:05:10 from London history books, Mutai stated,

“My aim was not to set the course record, I only realised it was possible when they (announcers) started talking about a 2:04 finish mid race. I decided to take off early since I was confident I could keep it up and even if my competitors caught up with me, they would have only done so after I’ve finished.”

Mutai led the first podium sweep in London from one nation since 1985 when he led Martin Lel and Patrick Makau Musyoki across the tape.

Meanwhile, New York women marathon champion, Edna Kiplagat, who was third in London, has not given up her quest to become the first Kenyan female runner to bag the $500,000 (Sh40m) World Marathon Majors.

“The race was very competitive with a strong field of women at this year’s London and I did well for number three and improved my personal best by eight minutes. I’m focusing on World Championships if I get my chance of being selected.”

Kiplagat who beat winner Mary Keitany in New York stated, “London is a relatively flat course, the course of New York is hard and hilly. Mary has high speed and does well in faster courses. I need to do speed work to keep up next time. I came here with a 2:28 personal best and left with 2:20 so it can be possible to catch-up.”

“I’m hoping to do well at Marathon Majors. If I don’t make Daegu, I will prepare for my title defence in New York,” the athlete who stopped the clock at 2:20:46 added.