NAIROBI, Kenya, November 9- Days after thousands lined up in the five boroughs that make up New York City to applaud their talent, it was perhaps irony most twisted that the Mutais who conquered the metropolis- Geoffrey and Emmanuel- returned home to a whimper on Tuesday night.
The pair who between them hold the Boston and London marathon titles and their related course records sealed the 1-2 in New York on Sunday with both dipping under the previous route best that had stood still since 2001.
For Geoffrey, wearing the winners’ wreath for his second Majors this year was the handsome reward while his bridesmaid revelled in becoming the fourth Kenyan winner of the World Marathon Majors (WMM) $500,000 (Sh50m) jackpot- one of the richest consolation prizes in sport if there is one.
“I’m very happy; it’s been tough over the last two seasons and finally winning it brings so much joy. I learned from my mistakes in the past season and this year, the competition was very tough but I did what I needed to do to ensure that I did not miss out,” Emmanuel who missed on the WMM payout last season to the late Olympics winner, Samuel Wanjiru told Capital Sport.
“When Geoffrey moved, we could not respond and besides me were (Tsegay) Kebede and (Gebre) Gebremariam and I knew maybe in the last part of the race would be very hard so I used my experience and waited until we reached Central Park where I made my move,” he recounted how the familiarity of the course he also finished last year aided him to seal the runner-up slot and WMM glory in 2:06:28.
The London champion reiterated his desire to compete for his nation at next year’s Olympics that will be run most probably on the course he blessed with its 2:04:40 route best in April.
“The Olympics will form part of my preparations for next season. For now, I cannot tell whether I will return to London to defend my title but nothing would make me happier than competing for my nation,” Emmanuel, who won silver for Kenya at the 2009 World Championship in Berlin expressed.
In an echo of the finishing order of the men’s race in New York, only this time with the positions reversed, Geoffrey checked-in at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport slight over a minute after his namesake concluded his interview.
“There he is,” Emmanuel pointed as the beaming New York titleholder came to view.
After a bear hug and high fives, the London winner passed over the media baton to his Boston equivalent.
“First of all, I thank God for the talent I have and the ability to maintain the strength I show in my running. To be a top competitor in marathon is not easy with the top level of athletes,” Geoffrey noted.
“For me, I’m not always happy when winning and when somebody beats me, I learn from my mistakes. Last year, I was beaten twice (Rotterdam and Berlin) and that motivated me. To race in New York was not easy, not easy, I knew I had to go with the group until 30km when I decided to go it alone,” the former construction site worker in Eldoret explained.
The versatile athlete who has won half marathons, cross country and the African 10,000m bronze medal on track in addition to his Majors resume, stressed.
“For me, it’s not about the money, I enjoy running especially at home and that is why I enter races such as Iten. I love running and nothing makes me happier.”
On London Olympics, Geoffrey said, “I do not know whether I will be included but I will continue with my programme and should I be selected, I will give my all for the country and that has never been in doubt.”
Even though they had not plastered it across their faces like most people who have struck the jackpot would be want to, their outing on Sunday brought them the kind of wealth only a small part of the Kenyan population can envision.
How will they spend their windfall? “Well, for me (chuckling) it will be something small with my family. I have no idea what they have planned but you will not find me buying expensive cars, jewellery or clothes.
“It is important not to blow money quickly on things that do not add value to your life. We have seen where that leads to and since this is the only job I do and I will retire one day, I will spend everything I earn wisely,” Emmanuel sagely said.
While echoing his sentiments, the self-coached Geoffrey added, “I will spare some for the 30 runners in my camp who have made me what I am for being there, training with me and giving me the motivation to do the hard work.”
With that, the pair who used separate flights back to the capital disappeared to the cold Nairobi night, with the freezing weather another chilling juxtaposition of a nation that has yet to embrace its heroes.
Whether it is ignorance or the opulence of distance running talent in their home nation, the scenes at JKIA where the Mutais went about their business with hardly anyone taking notice must have come as a relief after the frenzy that greeted then in New York, half a world away.