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Kipsang soars in mixed year for marathoners

KIPSANG-STREAKERNAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 26- It was a mixed year for Kenyan marathoners in 2013 as three male athletes breast the tape under the 2:04 threshold considered to be the benchmark for the ultimate distance race.

After disappointing at the 2012 London Olympics where he went in as the overwhelming bet for the gold medal, Wilson Kipsang closed 2013 as the AIMS Male Marathoner of the Year at the back of his astonishing 2:03:23 world record set in Berlin on September 29.

The nominee for the IAAF World Athlete of the Year, 31, had an inconspicuous start to the year with a fifth finish at the London Marathon in April where he clocked 2:07:47.

“The pacemakers messed that race and I considered dropping out at some stage but decided against it. They went out too fast and spoilt for some of us and it is one of the most disappointing things that can happen since we put in a lot of work to prepare for such a big race,” he later explained.

His London experience informed his decision to pick his own pacemaker for Berlin and despite falling a massive minute and a half off the world record pace, a storming last ten kilometre blistering performance brought curtains to compatriot Patrick Makau Musyoki’s previous 2:03:38 standard.

Kipsang therefore, completed the most impressive athletics world record of the year, earning the AIMS top award despite missing out on the final-three nomination for the IAAF World Athlete of the Year.

His Volare Sport team mate, Dennis Kimetto, 29, took the honours of the emerging male marathoner of the year with accomplished victories at the Tokyo (2:06:50) and Chicago World Marathon Majors (WMM) races.

In the second, Kimetto ran the scarcely believable 2:03:45, a new Chicago course record that shed over ten seconds off the previous mark to announce his arrival as a potential owner of the world record.

During the same race, compatriot Emmanuel Mutai made history by becoming the fastest ever loser at a world record permissible course when he followed Kimetto home in 2:03:52 but he became the third Kenyan to go under 2:04.

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Another Volare Sport runner, Geoffrey Mutai, won the storm swept New York Marathon in 2:08:24 to defend the title he won in 2011 with Super Storm Sandy accounting for its cancellation in 2012.

Therefore, Kenyan male athletes won four of the seven WMM ran in 2013 with Ethiopians Tsegay Kebede (London) and Lelisa Desisa (Boston) as well as Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich who won the World Championships in Moscow, sharing the rest.

The year also saw the Kenyan males surrender the WMM USD500,000 jackpot for the first time in the two-year cycle competition’s history when Tsegay became the first Ethiopian to bag that crown.

Robert ‘Mwafrika’ Cheruiyot, Martin Lel, Samuel Wanjiru, Emmanuel Mutai and Geoffrey Mutai had kept the WMM trophy in Kenya’s custody since the inception of the circuit competition that now includes Tokyo in 2006.

London, Boston, World Championships/Olympics in the year they occur, Berlin, Chicago and New York are other WMM races.

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