LONDON, (Reuters) – Eliud Kipchoge is, by just about any reckoning, the most successful marathon runner in history so he can be excused for his somewhat dismissive response when questioned yesterday about his unusual preparations for Sunday’s London race.
Kipchoge won on the streets of London in 2015 and 2016 but missed last year’s race to take part in the Nike Breaking Two project, where he ran two hours and 25 seconds with the aid of “illegal” in and out pacemakers.
He returned to action in Berlin in October last year, taking a second win there but has opted not to race at all since then over any distance.
“My season has been really good and my training actually doesn’t need to be tested,” the Kenyan told a news conference. “It doesn’t need to have a race in Europe or America or anywhere to test my body. So the training is fully actually testing my body.”
Still only 33, Kipchoge knows what he is doing, having been at the top for more than a decade, winning world championship gold on the track over 5,000metres in 2003 then bronze and silver in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
But it was after stepping up to the classic 26.2 mile distance on the road that he truly flourished.
His personal best of 2:03:05 is the third-fastest legal time in history, he was Olympic champion in 2016 and has lost only one of the nine marathons he has raced. Even then, his second race in Berlin in 2013, he clocked the then-fastest non-winning time ever of 2:04:05 behind Wilson Kipsang’s world record of 2:03.23.
That world mark has since been lowered to 2:02:57 by Dennis Kimetto, who is racing in Vienna on Sunday, and despite it being forecast to be the hottest London Marathon since it began in 1981, Kipchoge has it in his sights at some point.
“I hope one day I run a world record in a race recognised by the IAAF, and it will really remain in this world and it will show the next generation that I own a world record organised by the IAAF,” he said
“I have a human world record two hours 25 seconds and I have not changed my training. “There is no limit and one day Dennis’s record will be broken.”
Although he is a strong favourite, as ever, the London field is of the highest order with the top eight all boasting times under 2:06.
Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest of all time with 2:03:03, and defending champion Daniel Wanjiru of Kenya should be in the mix, along with new kid on the block Guye Adola, another Ethiopian, who pushed Kipchoge all the way in Berlin last year in a remarkable second-placed debut.
Local interest will focus on Mo Farah, who has switched full time to the marathon after calling time on his stellar track career.
The Briton’s only previous taste of the distance was in 2014 when he clocked 2:08:21 and he is likely to need a considerable improvement on that if he is to be in the mix on Sunday.