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Kenyan runners aim to break ‘2 hour 5 minute-mark’ in Seoul Marathon

Kenyan runners aim to break ‘2 hour 5 minute-mark’ in Seoul Marathon

Posted February. 26, 2014 05:31,   


"Let’s break the record of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 37 seconds!"

The biggest interest at the 2014 Seoul International Marathon and the 85th Dong-A Marathon, which will take place on March 16, is whether runners will break the competition’s record and men’s marathon record set in Korea (2 hours, 5 minutes and 37 seconds), which Wilson Loyanae Erupe from Keyna set in 2012.

The secretariat of the Seoul International Marathon invited three runners with personal best at the 2 hours and 4 minutes level, and six runners with the 2 hours and 6 minutes level, and decided to award 150,000 U.S. dollars in extra prize money to a runner who sets a new event record at the 2 hours and 4 minutes level. Considering the 80,000 dollars in prize money accorded to the champion, the winner will rake in up to 230,000 dollars at a single race. Athletes from Africa will likely stage fierce competition to break the 2 hours and 5 minutes mark.

Runners from Kenya, a marathon powerhouse, including James Kipsang Kwambai, 31, who ranks first with a time of 2:04:27 among the participants, and Jonathan Mayo, who ranks third with a time of 2:04:56, are considered the most promising contenders. As many as 18 elite marathoners from Kenya are participating in this year’s event with the aim of setting a new record.

At the Rotterdam Marathon in 2009, Kwambai posted 2:04:27, but had to yield the title through photo analysis to Duncan Kibet Kirong, Kenyan marathoner who posted the same record. He is committed to dispel regret from that episode at the Seoul event. Kirong also aims to win the title in the upcoming event.

Born in Eldoret, dubbed the hub of marathon in Kenya, Kwambai naturally developed relationship with marathon. Eldoret is situated 1,900 meters above the sea level. Since young, he would run around on highland prairie. After quitting elementary school due to economic difficulties facing his family, he began his running career and made money. He initially focused on shorter runs and half marathon, but made his debut in full-course marathon with a time of 2:10:20 at the Brescia Marathon in Italy in April 2006. He posted a time of 2:05:36 at the Berlin Marathon in August 2008, before recording the 2 hours and 4 minutes level a year later.

Mayo, who set his personal best at the Dubai Marathon in 2012, is the strongest competitor who could block Kwambai from winning the title in Seoul. Physically fit, he stands 175 centimeters and weighs 61 kilograms, and posted his personal best of 13 minutes, 22 seconds, 89 at the 5-km run, and 27 minutes, 45 seconds at the 10-km run, boasting superb speed. He ranked third with a time of 2:09:49 at the Gyeongju International Marathon in Korea last year.

In addition, Gilbert Kipruto Kirwa, another Kenyan marathoner whose record of 2:06:14, Peisa Bekele Olledikael from Ethiopia with a time of 2:06:26, and Abraham Girma Bekela from Kenya with a time of 2:06:48 have potential to break the 2 hours and 5 minutes mark soon.