Patrick Makau takes the 2012 Frankfurt Marathon title (Jiro Mochizuki)
Patrick Makau takes the 2012 Frankfurt Marathon title (Jiro Mochizuki)
  • COUNTRY Kenya Kenya
  • DATE OF BIRTH 2 MAR 1985


Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.


Updated 26 January 2012            


Patrick MAKAU Musyoki (Half Marathon, Marathon)

Born 2 March 1985, Manyanzwani, Tala Kangundo District, Eastern Province

Lives and trains in Ngong

Manager: Zane Branson

Married to Catherine with daughter Christine and twins born 31 January 2012



Escape from a life of squalor is what inspired Patrick Makau Musyoki to run away from poverty through the opportunity presented by athletics. “I wanted to do anything in athletics that would help me out of poverty,” he said.


“I grew up under a lot of hardship and was only interested in getting a better life. When I started out on the road and saw how much money it brought, I decided to go on. My earnings from athletics have helped my father’s family and improved our lives.”


Now, he stands tall as the World marathon record holder, the heir to ‘The Emperor’ himself Haile Gebrselassie along with an enviable fortune and fame that has fuelled among other expensive tastes, a love for cars.


“I have bought so many that my parking lot at home is threatening not to accommodate them,” the athlete who shuns the fame part of stardom admitted. In his garage, top of range fuel guzzlers and sleek sedans compete for space in his expansive Ngong residence.


For someone who has crossed the divide from abject poverty and limited opportunity to success at the world stage, no one would begrudge Makau, who is married to fellow runner and military officer Christine, a spot of luxury.


Hailing from the same area as 2007 Chicago Marathon champion, Patrick Ivuti, and former Rotterdam and Honolulu champion, Jimmy Muindi, Makau naturally picked athletics as the way out. “I saw how they had developed their families and how their names are heard on the radio and printed in newspapers and wanted to be like them,” he said.


Since then, Makau has made great progress in road running, dipping under the 60 minute mark no less than eight times in addition to four full marathons under 2:06 in the last two years including his 2:03:38 mark over the ultimate distance he achieved in Berlin in 2011.  


But even as he ascends the ladder to distance running greatness, he knows where his foundation lies. “My family, especially my wife has been giving me peace of mind; she’s cooking well for me and giving me enough time to relax.”


“I’m proud of him as a World record holder. The guy trains very hard and I’m very happy since he did it not only for us, but Kenya, and to have a World record in my house is a blessing,” Catherine picks-up.


And dotingly looking at her better half, she went on, “It’s been a great sacrifice, I can’t explain the feeling and I shed my tears when he broke the World record. I was very excited since I could not believe he could run like that but with God, everything is possible.”


After attending Unyuani Primary School, where he finished in 1999, Makau joined the Kyeni Academy, Misiani, for his O level education. He embarked on serious running in 2001 as a Form 2 student (second year of Kenyan secondary education).


Makau started out as a 1500m and 5000m runner and qualified to represent his school at the district level of the annual secondary school championships. The following year, while in Form 3, Makau went two steps better and qualified to represent Eastern Province in the 2002 national secondary school championships in Meru, 350km from Nairobi. He finished seventh in 5000m final having dropped the 1500m race at District level.


In 2003, Makau, in his final secondary education year, again qualified for the national finals in Mombasa where he finished ninth in the 5000m. It was after he completed high school that Muindi approached Makau in January 2004 to help him launch a career in athletics. He had spotted Makau running while in school.


“There was nothing else for me to do and even though examination results were not out, I decided to engage full time in running,” Makau said. “Muindi gave me a training programme to follow and told me to see him after two months to assess its efficiency.”


However, the programme failed to suit Makau, and his wish to make a breakthrough in the sport, so he shared his sentiments with Muindi. Undeterred, Muindi housed him until July 2004 when he relocated to Ngong to exercise alongside other seasoned athletes.


Things, however, did not go according to plan and a disillusioned Makau was back home in February 2005 after failing to meet the required grade. Until this time, he was yet to feature in any meaningful race. With new resolve, Makau returned to Ngong in May determined to make his dream career as an athlete come true.


After intensive training and exercise, Makau went to Tanzania for the Nguu Ndoto 25km race in July. This was to be his competitive debut and the Kangundo bred runner won the event. A month after his first victory, Makau won the Zanzibari Half Marathon in 62:00 and the two wins were enough to convince Muindi to introduce him to Kenyan competition.


In October that year, Makau finished fourth in the Nyeri Half Marathon and eighth at the Ndakaini Half Marathon in December.


Makau opened his 2006 season hoping to stamp his authority and, on his first foray outside Africa, he won the Tarsus International Half Marathon, in Turkey, in April (1:02.42).


It was here that Makau met his previous manager, Ian Ladbrooke. “It was my first foreign race and, due to lack of a chaperone, I missed the start while doing my warm up jog since there was no one to direct me,” Makau recalled. “I had to start when the rest of the pack had done 100m.


“It was also my first time to race in Adidas running shoes and 1km into the race, the left shoe laces untied and I had to stop to tie them up. Well into the 15km mark, the other pair did the same and I decided not to stop again.” Despite these difficulties, Makau won the race.


Ladbrooke, seeing his potential, found Makau some races in Europe. He won the Von Berlin 25k race (1:14.08) despite taking a wrong turn at first when he entered the Berlin Olympic Stadium, where the race finished.


He next won the Vidovdan 10km in Bosnia in June and, four days later, a 10km race in London in 29:52.That same month, Makau won a 5000m race in Czech Republic, posting 13:39.


Makau then clinched the Swansea 10km title in 28:55 in September and earned his first selection to the Kenyan team for the World Road Running Championships in Debrecen, where he place 26th clocking 59:54 over 20km.


Makau then prevailed upon his manager to cut the number of his featured races the following season. He started his 2007 campaign in Pakistan where he won the Lahore 10km in 28:03, but shot to prominence in February 2007 in the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, in the UAE, where compatriot Samuel Wanjiru set a then World record for the distance (58:53) and Makau came second in 59:13.


He returned to Kenya for further training and on April 1, soared above all to claim victory in the Vattenfall Berlin Half Marathon in 58:56, setting the third quickest time that year. It was also a course record that obliterated the previous mark of 59:07 set a year earlier by Paul Kosgei. En route he also set his 10km PB in 27:27.


The following month saw him clinch the Von Berlin 25k in 1:14.22, an outstanding feat given the warm temperatures. The win also meant that he continued his win streak in Berlin.


While training for the 2007 Rotterdam Half Marathon, Makau entered the Kenyan trials for the 10,000m at the All Africa Games, in Algiers, in July. “I did not intend to make the team since I was preparing for my race,” he said. “I just went there to improve on my speed.” But, leading as he approached the finish, Makau was poised to qualify. However, he inexplicably slipped and fell inches from the line.


In the Fortis Rotterdam Half Marathon in September, Makau finished second in 59:19 behind team mate Evans Cheruiyot, who set a course record of 59:12. After losing 40 metres when he had trouble retrieving his bottle at a drinks station, Makau caught the leaders at the 15km mark, but he was unable to take the victory as Cheruiyot outsprinted him.


At the World Road Running Championships in Udine, Makau finished second behind Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese to clinch silver in a time of 59:02. He exploits helped Kenya win the overall team title.


He started 2008 in style when he pipped Tsegaye Kebede in a desperate lunge right on the finishing line to win the Ras Al Khaimah half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates in February.


Makau had the edge in the final straight, clocking 59:35 to win the $25000 prize money although the Ethiopian finished on the same time.


The following month, Makau won the Reading Half Marathon on March 2 in 1:01:19 - a new course record.


Two weeks later, he won his third half marathon of the year triumphing in the City-Pier-City Half Marathon in The Hague, in the Netherlands, on March 15. The 23-year-old Makau outsprinted his compatriot Joseph Maregu to clinch victory in 1:00:08.


“I wanted a fast pace,” Makau Musyoki said afterwards. “We lost the pace maker already after four kilometres. Everybody was looking at me as I was the favourite.”


In April, Makau returned to one of his favourite races- the 28th edition of the Vattenfall Berlin Half Marathon where he edged out Ethiopia’s Eshetu Wondimu in a sprint finish to win one of the most prestigious German races over 21.0975 km in exactly 60 minutes.


In September, Makau registered yet another victory over the distance winning the 5th edition of the Fortis Rotterdam Half Marathon.


He seems to have specialised in strong finishing as he again edged out his main challenger with last gasp dash for the line. This time, Evans Cheruiyot was at the end of Makau’s speed on the final stretch, with both timing 59:29.


It was Makau’s fifth victory in a half marathon and the second in The Netherlands this year.


“I was very confident in winning this race'', the winner said afterwards. “I waited long in the group. I knew this was my day.''


He was then selected to represent Kenya in the World Half Marathon Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


On his return to the event, Makau produced a good run of 1:01:54 that was only bettered by Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, who blasted away from the competition for his third straight World Half win in 59:56, nearly two minutes ahead of the Kenyan.


“I tried all I could to keep up but he was better on the day,” said Makau, who saw the back of Tadese for a second year running.


Makau welcomed 2009 by successfully holding on to his Ras-Al-Khaimah title in a blistering 58:52 on February by blasting through 5km in 13:41 (PB), 10km in 27:42 (PB) and 15km in 41:30 to complete a seven second victory over Wilson Kipsang, his closest challenger.


"I was ready to run a good time and the pace we maintained throughout the race was good and it kept getting higher," Makau said. "The rest of the guys, kept pushing and challenging, but I was determined to hold them off and I'm glad with the way I defended the title."


That done, Makau returned home to prepare for his full marathon debut in Rotterdam in April (5) and when the race unfolded; he was among the main protagonist in the event that turned out to be the most talked about in the ultimate distance that year.


Compatriots Duncan Kibet and James Kwambai arrived at the tape in the staggering 2:04:27, the third fastest performance ever at the time and the world leading with the former nicking it at the tape but Makau’s 2:06:14 for fourth marked the second quickest debut ever. The event also registered the fastest ever times for placings 2-3-4.


Makau made his Marathon Majors debut at the same city on November 1 but he was unable to finish, with knee trouble to blame.


Still not fully recovered at the start of 2010, Makau slumped to a 24th finish at the Zayed Half in Abu Dhabi (7 January) at the beginning of the year before regaining his form and reputation when he won the Rotterdam Half in 59:51 on 14 March.


Four weeks later he returned to the same city for the marathon and at the end of the 11 April race, Makau with hard chasing countryman and friend Geoffrey Mutai close to his heels, rocketed to a 2:04:48 victory that came only 21 seconds from claiming Duncan Kibet’s course record from the year before. It was nonetheless the fourth quickest ever at the time with Mutai coming home for second in 2:04:50 with Vincent Kipruto completing the 1-2-3 in 2:05:15.


Makau and Mutai would return to Berlin in September and they served another thrilling sequel with the finishing order not altered although their planned assault on Gebrselassie’s 2:03:59 World record fell short due to foul weather.


In a rain swept course, Makau was able to breeze to a 2:05:08 victory with Mutai being led to the altar two seconds adrift despite their brave effort to stay in the World record pace until the showers that had continued for 12 hours prior increased in the closing phases of the competition.


"The big difference," said Makau, "was that there was some wind in Rotterdam, but it was only on one part of the course. Here, it was raining all through the race. My clothes were wet, my shoes were wet. This was much harder than Rotterdam.”


As consolation, the pair had the pleasant surprise of being received at the tape by their country’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, who was on an official visit to the German capital before popping by to offer his support. Makau was however, not fazed since his residence is only 2km from Odinga’s.


At the end of the year, he recorded another DNF at the Honolulu Marathon on 12 December, but no one had prepared for what he was to achieve in the next season.


Makau only featured in three events in 2011, the first an unsuccessful bid to reclaim his Ras-al-Khaimah Half title (18 February) where he ran 1:03:51 for 12th.


On 17 April, Makau made his London Marathon debut and was in among the front runners for the title with compatriots Emmanuel Mutai, the runner-up from 2010 and three-time winner, Martin Lel in the closing stages


Mutai separated from the pair to finish in a course record of 2:04:40 with the battle between the resurgent Lel and Makau for second decided at the final 40 meters. After a cat-and-mouse waiting game over most of the final straight, Lel exploded past Makau four or five seconds before the line to get a much-deserved second finish, with both clocked in 2:05:45.


But there was no denying Makau all the glory on 18 September when he returned for a title defense in Berlin where he lined-up against The Emperor himself in a showdown for the World record.


Makau had altered his training after his attempt at the World record at the same race last year fell victim to the weather and on the half way mark, he struck, deploying the ‘zig zag’ tactic fashioned by the late Samuel Wanjiru in Chicago a year before.


Running from one end of the road to the other just a few paces behind Gebrselassie, to use his shadow as a foil, Makau broke the Emperor at 27km when he shot past even the designated rabbits to charge for the tape.  


As anxious compatriots tuned to television sets, radios and mobile phones to monitor the race run at mid morning Kenyan time, Makau went out so fast that even a few missed steps towards the finish line could not stop him from breaking Gebre’s record by 21 seconds, the new standard standing at 2:03:38.


“It is one of my tactics. I did some zig-zags, to confuse him. I had a lot of energy, and wanted to tire him. He was trying to use me, to maintain the pace, and I wanted to run alone, either behind him or to the side, so I did a zig-zag to one side and he followed, I did it to the other side, and the next time, I couldn’t see him,” Makau said.


He added: “This (World record) is very special for the Kenyans, especially beating the Ethiopians. Everyone in Kenya will be happy for me. My manager is getting a lot of calls from Kenya, and I hear there were lots of people watching TV in bars, and breaking bottles when they saw the World record.”


On his return home, Makau who dodged a crowd of local and international reporters before they caught up with him 15km from the main airport, said the moment was long overdue.


“This time, the weather was so favourable and the sunny condition on Sunday was perfect. To be a champion and record holder for a marathon is something big. To do the World record with the record owner, Haile Gebrsellasie was special.”


He was quick to realize however, that he had now become a target, a point driven home by compatriot Wilson Kipsang who propelled to a 2:03:42 win in Frankfurt barely a month after Makau’s epic Berlin performance.



“This will cost a lot especially in my behaviour and values. I have to work harder to maintain my value. The World record can be broken if someone like I gets another chance to return to Berlin and attempt it but it can also be done at another city.”


On the same, his spouse added: “I will give him double the support I have been giving since now, he has to work harder to maintain his status but I know he can do it.”


Despite the fact his pal Geoffrey Mutai and Moses Mosop managed to run faster than him in 2011 in their incredible 2:03:02 and 2:03:04 performances on 18 April  in Boston (but course elevation and other factors ruled them as a World records) Makau had finally ascended to the throne of marathon running.


“This year has proved that no one can own the record and it is possible with discipline and focus to run fast times. I believe it shall be taken lower and I’m also among those aiming to do that but for next year, the Olympics are the top of my mind,” he stated when he was feted as the Male Sports Personality of the Year at the black tie annual Soya Awards in December.


Makau was also a finalist nominee for the World Male Athlete of the Year at the IAF World Gala in Monaco.


Dispute over payment issues saw him part ways with Landbrooke and he replaced him with Zane Branson as his representative. It was one of the decisions that brought out the inner steel masked so effectively by his demure exterior which has helped him make key decisions in his career and business enterprise.


Makau’s income has largely gone to support his and his wife’s extended families. He built a house for his parents and bought plots of land for other family members.


As Gebrselassie, the man he knocked off his perch has shown, it is possible to combine training and business and Makau’s first substantial business investment was a 10-unit apartment complex in Nairobi.


His economic interests include real estate, masonry and farming. He is erecting a number of commercial buildings in Machakos and native Tala besides engaging in coffee and maize cultivation in addition to cutting bricks for sale in Nairobi.


He is also into dairy farming with his product once again earmarked for the capital.

Makau’s success has consequently boosted a whole community. “At the moment, there are about 60 young people working in my estate with many more getting opportunities whenever activities peak,” he disclosed.


Furthermore, together with two athletes who inspired him on his way up, Muindi and Ivuti, Makau is involved in a training camp in Kangundo, a neighbouring village of Tala, for developing distance runners.


“It’s not money stuffed into a Swiss bank account, its money that��s working for the community,” Branson said.


Makau was named in the Kenyan Olympics Marathon squad probables list in January and he remains focused on making an impact in London. A week later (20 January), organisers of the London city marathon included him in their elite field where he will reacquaint himself with E. Mutai and Lel in what promises to be a cracker.



Yearly Progression

10km: 2006 - 28:55; 2007 – 28:03; 2008 – 28:19; 2009 – 27:42+

Half Marathon: 2005 - 62:00; 2006 - 1:02:42; 2007 – 58.56; 2008 – 59:29; 2009 – 58:52; 2010 – 59:51; 2011 – 63:51;

Marathon: 2009 - 2:06:14; 2010 - 2:04:38; 2011 - 2:03:48 (WR)


Personal Best

Half Marathon: 58.52 (2009)

Marathon: 2:03:38 WR (2011)


Career Highlights

May 2006         1st, Berlin 25k  

February 2007     2nd, Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon

April 2007       1st, Berlin Half Marathon

May 2007         1st, Berlin 25k

September 2007   2nd, Rotterdam Half Marathon

October 2007     2nd World Road Running Championships

February 2008     1st Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon

March 2008       1st Reading Half Marathon

March 2008       1St City-Pier-City Half Marathon

April 2008       1st Berlin Half Marathon

September 2008   1st Fortis Half Marathon – Rotterdam  

October 2008     2nd World Half Marathon Championships

February 2009     1st Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon

April 2009       4th Rotterdam Marathon

November 2009     DNF New York Marathon

April 2010       1st Rotterdam Marathon

September 2010   1st Berlin Marathon

April 2011       3rd London Marathon

September 2011   1st Berlin Marathon


Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2007-2012


Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
3000 Metres 7:54.50 Pliezhausen 13 MAY 2007
10 Kilometres 27:27 Berlin 01 APR 2007
15 Kilometres 41:30 Ras Al Khaimah 20 FEB 2009
20 Kilometres 56:13 Udine 14 OCT 2007
Half Marathon 58:52 Ras Al Khaimah 20 FEB 2009
25 Kilometres 1:13:18 Berlin 25 SEP 2011
30 Kilometres 1:27:38 Berlin 25 SEP 2011
Marathon 2:03:38 Berlin 25 SEP 2011
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
3000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2007 7:54.50 Pliezhausen 13 MAY
10 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 27:57 Cape Elizabeth, ME 03 AUG
2012 28:21 Manchester 20 MAY
2011 28:17 Ras Al Khaimah 18 FEB
2009 27:42 Ras Al Khaimah 20 FEB
2008 28:12 Den Haag 15 MAR
2007 27:27 Berlin 01 APR
15 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2012 42:46 Tilburg 02 SEP
2011 43:28 Ras Al Khaimah 18 FEB
2010 42:57 Den Haag 14 MAR
2009 41:30 Ras Al Khaimah 20 FEB
2008 42:41 Den Haag 15 MAR
2007 41:34 Udine 14 OCT
20 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2011 58:30 Berlin 25 SEP
2010 58:39 Rotterdam 11 APR
2008 57:04 Den Haag 15 MAR
2007 56:13 Udine 14 OCT
2006 59:54 Debrecen 08 OCT
Half Marathon Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2012 1:02:40 Granollers 05 FEB
2011 1:01:44 Berlin 25 SEP
2010 59:51 Den Haag 14 MAR
2009 58:52 Ras Al Khaimah 20 FEB
2008 59:29 Rotterdam 14 SEP
2007 58:56 Berlin 01 APR
2006 1:02:42 Tarsus 02 APR
25 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2012 1:14:32 Frankfurt 28 OCT
2011 1:13:18 Berlin 25 SEP
2010 1:13:51 Rotterdam 11 APR
2009 1:14:08 Rotterdam 05 APR
2007 1:14:22 Berlin 06 MAY
2006 1:14:08 Berlin 07 MAY
30 Kilometres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2012 1:29:29 Frankfurt 28 OCT
2011 1:27:38 Berlin 25 SEP
2010 1:28:56 Rotterdam 11 APR
2009 1:28:52 Rotterdam 05 APR
Marathon Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 2:08:22 Fukuoka 07 DEC
2013 2:14:10 London 21 APR
2012 2:06:08 Frankfurt 28 OCT
2011 2:03:38 Berlin 25 SEP
2010 2:04:48 Rotterdam 11 APR
2009 2:06:14 Rotterdam 05 APR
Honours - 20 Kilometres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
1st IAAF World Road Running Championships 26 59:54 Debrecen 08 OCT 2006
Honours - Half Marathon
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF / Caixa World Half Marathon Championships 2 1:01:54 Rio de Janeiro 12 OCT 2008
2nd IAAF World Road Running Championships 2 59:02 Udine 14 OCT 2007


Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.


Updated 26 January 2012            


Patrick MAKAU Musyoki (Half Marathon, Marathon)

Born 2 March 1985, Manyanzwani, Tala Kangundo District, Eastern Province

Lives and trains in Ngong

Manager: Zane Branson

Married to Catherine with daughter Christine and twins born 31 January 2012



Escape from a life of squalor is what inspired Patrick Makau Musyoki to run away from poverty through the opportunity presented by athletics. “I wanted to do anything in athletics that would help me out of poverty,” he said.


“I grew up under a lot of hardship and was only interested in getting a better life. When I started out on the road and saw how much money it brought, I decided to go on. My earnings from athletics have helped my father’s family and improved our lives.”


Now, he stands tall as the World marathon record holder, the heir to ‘The Emperor’ himself Haile Gebrselassie along with an enviable fortune and fame that has fuelled among other expensive tastes, a love for cars.


“I have bought so many that my parking lot at home is threatening not to accommodate them,” the athlete who shuns the fame part of stardom admitted. In his garage, top of range fuel guzzlers and sleek sedans compete for space in his expansive Ngong residence.


For someone who has crossed the divide from abject poverty and limited opportunity to success at the world stage, no one would begrudge Makau, who is married to fellow runner and military officer Christine, a spot of luxury.


Hailing from the same area as 2007 Chicago Marathon champion, Patrick Ivuti, and former Rotterdam and Honolulu champion, Jimmy Muindi, Makau naturally picked athletics as the way out. “I saw how they had developed their families and how their names are heard on the radio and printed in newspapers and wanted to be like them,” he said.


Since then, Makau has made great progress in road running, dipping under the 60 minute mark no less than eight times in addition to four full marathons under 2:06 in the last two years including his 2:03:38 mark over the ultimate distance he achieved in Berlin in 2011.  


But even as he ascends the ladder to distance running greatness, he knows where his foundation lies. “My family, especially my wife has been giving me peace of mind; she’s cooking well for me and giving me enough time to relax.”


“I’m proud of him as a World record holder. The guy trains very hard and I’m very happy since he did it not only for us, but Kenya, and to have a World record in my house is a blessing,” Catherine picks-up.


And dotingly looking at her better half, she went on, “It’s been a great sacrifice, I can’t explain the feeling and I shed my tears when he broke the World record. I was very excited since I could not believe he could run like that but with God, everything is possible.”


After attending Unyuani Primary School, where he finished in 1999, Makau joined the Kyeni Academy, Misiani, for his O level education. He embarked on serious running in 2001 as a Form 2 student (second year of Kenyan secondary education).


Makau started out as a 1500m and 5000m runner and qualified to represent his school at the district level of the annual secondary school championships. The following year, while in Form 3, Makau went two steps better and qualified to represent Eastern Province in the 2002 national secondary school championships in Meru, 350km from Nairobi. He finished seventh in 5000m final having dropped the 1500m race at District level.


In 2003, Makau, in his final secondary education year, again qualified for the national finals in Mombasa where he finished ninth in the 5000m. It was after he completed high school that Muindi approached Makau in January 2004 to help him launch a career in athletics. He had spotted Makau running while in school.


“There was nothing else for me to do and even though examination results were not out, I decided to engage full time in running,” Makau said. “Muindi gave me a training programme to follow and told me to see him after two months to assess its efficiency.”


However, the programme failed to suit Makau, and his wish to make a breakthrough in the sport, so he shared his sentiments with Muindi. Undeterred, Muindi housed him until July 2004 when he relocated to Ngong to exercise alongside other seasoned athletes.


Things, however, did not go according to plan and a disillusioned Makau was back home in February 2005 after failing to meet the required grade. Until this time, he was yet to feature in any meaningful race. With new resolve, Makau returned to Ngong in May determined to make his dream career as an athlete come true.


After intensive training and exercise, Makau went to Tanzania for the Nguu Ndoto 25km race in July. This was to be his competitive debut and the Kangundo bred runner won the event. A month after his first victory, Makau won the Zanzibari Half Marathon in 62:00 and the two wins were enough to convince Muindi to introduce him to Kenyan competition.


In October that year, Makau finished fourth in the Nyeri Half Marathon and eighth at the Ndakaini Half Marathon in December.


Makau opened his 2006 season hoping to stamp his authority and, on his first foray outside Africa, he won the Tarsus International Half Marathon, in Turkey, in April (1:02.42).


It was here that Makau met his previous manager, Ian Ladbrooke. “It was my first foreign race and, due to lack of a chaperone, I missed the start while doing my warm up jog since there was no one to direct me,” Makau recalled. “I had to start when the rest of the pack had done 100m.


“It was also my first time to race in Adidas running shoes and 1km into the race, the left shoe laces untied and I had to stop to tie them up. Well into the 15km mark, the other pair did the same and I decided not to stop again.” Despite these difficulties, Makau won the race.


Ladbrooke, seeing his potential, found Makau some races in Europe. He won the Von Berlin 25k race (1:14.08) despite taking a wrong turn at first when he entered the Berlin Olympic Stadium, where the race finished.


He next won the Vidovdan 10km in Bosnia in June and, four days later, a 10km race in London in 29:52.That same month, Makau won a 5000m race in Czech Republic, posting 13:39.


Makau then clinched the Swansea 10km title in 28:55 in September and earned his first selection to the Kenyan team for the World Road Running Championships in Debrecen, where he place 26th clocking 59:54 over 20km.


Makau then prevailed upon his manager to cut the number of his featured races the following season. He started his 2007 campaign in Pakistan where he won the Lahore 10km in 28:03, but shot to prominence in February 2007 in the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, in the UAE, where compatriot Samuel Wanjiru set a then World record for the distance (58:53) and Makau came second in 59:13.


He returned to Kenya for further training and on April 1, soared above all to claim victory in the Vattenfall Berlin Half Marathon in 58:56, setting the third quickest time that year. It was also a course record that obliterated the previous mark of 59:07 set a year earlier by Paul Kosgei. En route he also set his 10km PB in 27:27.


The following month saw him clinch the Von Berlin 25k in 1:14.22, an outstanding feat given the warm temperatures. The win also meant that he continued his win streak in Berlin.


While training for the 2007 Rotterdam Half Marathon, Makau entered the Kenyan trials for the 10,000m at the All Africa Games, in Algiers, in July. “I did not intend to make the team since I was preparing for my race,” he said. “I just went there to improve on my speed.” But, leading as he approached the finish, Makau was poised to qualify. However, he inexplicably slipped and fell inches from the line.


In the Fortis Rotterdam Half Marathon in September, Makau finished second in 59:19 behind team mate Evans Cheruiyot, who set a course record of 59:12. After losing 40 metres when he had trouble retrieving his bottle at a drinks station, Makau caught the leaders at the 15km mark, but he was unable to take the victory as Cheruiyot outsprinted him.


At the World Road Running Championships in Udine, Makau finished second behind Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese to clinch silver in a time of 59:02. He exploits helped Kenya win the overall team title.


He started 2008 in style when he pipped Tsegaye Kebede in a desperate lunge right on the finishing line to win the Ras Al Khaimah half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates in February.


Makau had the edge in the final straight, clocking 59:35 to win the $25000 prize money although the Ethiopian finished on the same time.


The following month, Makau won the Reading Half Marathon on March 2 in 1:01:19 - a new course record.


Two weeks later, he won his third half marathon of the year triumphing in the City-Pier-City Half Marathon in The Hague, in the Netherlands, on March 15. The 23-year-old Makau outsprinted his compatriot Joseph Maregu to clinch victory in 1:00:08.


“I wanted a fast pace,” Makau Musyoki said afterwards. “We lost the pace maker already after four kilometres. Everybody was looking at me as I was the favourite.”


In April, Makau returned to one of his favourite races- the 28th edition of the Vattenfall Berlin Half Marathon where he edged out Ethiopia’s Eshetu Wondimu in a sprint finish to win one of the most prestigious German races over 21.0975 km in exactly 60 minutes.


In September, Makau registered yet another victory over the distance winning the 5th edition of the Fortis Rotterdam Half Marathon.


He seems to have specialised in strong finishing as he again edged out his main challenger with last gasp dash for the line. This time, Evans Cheruiyot was at the end of Makau’s speed on the final stretch, with both timing 59:29.


It was Makau’s fifth victory in a half marathon and the second in The Netherlands this year.


“I was very confident in winning this race'', the winner said afterwards. “I waited long in the group. I knew this was my day.''


He was then selected to represent Kenya in the World Half Marathon Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


On his return to the event, Makau produced a good run of 1:01:54 that was only bettered by Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, who blasted away from the competition for his third straight World Half win in 59:56, nearly two minutes ahead of the Kenyan.


“I tried all I could to keep up but he was better on the day,” said Makau, who saw the back of Tadese for a second year running.


Makau welcomed 2009 by successfully holding on to his Ras-Al-Khaimah title in a blistering 58:52 on February by blasting through 5km in 13:41 (PB), 10km in 27:42 (PB) and 15km in 41:30 to complete a seven second victory over Wilson Kipsang, his closest challenger.


"I was ready to run a good time and the pace we maintained throughout the race was good and it kept getting higher," Makau said. "The rest of the guys, kept pushing and challenging, but I was determined to hold them off and I'm glad with the way I defended the title."


That done, Makau returned home to prepare for his full marathon debut in Rotterdam in April (5) and when the race unfolded; he was among the main protagonist in the event that turned out to be the most talked about in the ultimate distance that year.


Compatriots Duncan Kibet and James Kwambai arrived at the tape in the staggering 2:04:27, the third fastest performance ever at the time and the world leading with the former nicking it at the tape but Makau’s 2:06:14 for fourth marked the second quickest debut ever. The event also registered the fastest ever times for placings 2-3-4.


Makau made his Marathon Majors debut at the same city on November 1 but he was unable to finish, with knee trouble to blame.


Still not fully recovered at the start of 2010, Makau slumped to a 24th finish at the Zayed Half in Abu Dhabi (7 January) at the beginning of the year before regaining his form and reputation when he won the Rotterdam Half in 59:51 on 14 March.


Four weeks later he returned to the same city for the marathon and at the end of the 11 April race, Makau with hard chasing countryman and friend Geoffrey Mutai close to his heels, rocketed to a 2:04:48 victory that came only 21 seconds from claiming Duncan Kibet’s course record from the year before. It was nonetheless the fourth quickest ever at the time with Mutai coming home for second in 2:04:50 with Vincent Kipruto completing the 1-2-3 in 2:05:15.


Makau and Mutai would return to Berlin in September and they served another thrilling sequel with the finishing order not altered although their planned assault on Gebrselassie’s 2:03:59 World record fell short due to foul weather.


In a rain swept course, Makau was able to breeze to a 2:05:08 victory with Mutai being led to the altar two seconds adrift despite their brave effort to stay in the World record pace until the showers that had continued for 12 hours prior increased in the closing phases of the competition.


"The big difference," said Makau, "was that there was some wind in Rotterdam, but it was only on one part of the course. Here, it was raining all through the race. My clothes were wet, my shoes were wet. This was much harder than Rotterdam.”


As consolation, the pair had the pleasant surprise of being received at the tape by their country’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, who was on an official visit to the German capital before popping by to offer his support. Makau was however, not fazed since his residence is only 2km from Odinga’s.


At the end of the year, he recorded another DNF at the Honolulu Marathon on 12 December, but no one had prepared for what he was to achieve in the next season.


Makau only featured in three events in 2011, the first an unsuccessful bid to reclaim his Ras-al-Khaimah Half title (18 February) where he ran 1:03:51 for 12th.


On 17 April, Makau made his London Marathon debut and was in among the front runners for the title with compatriots Emmanuel Mutai, the runner-up from 2010 and three-time winner, Martin Lel in the closing stages


Mutai separated from the pair to finish in a course record of 2:04:40 with the battle between the resurgent Lel and Makau for second decided at the final 40 meters. After a cat-and-mouse waiting game over most of the final straight, Lel exploded past Makau four or five seconds before the line to get a much-deserved second finish, with both clocked in 2:05:45.


But there was no denying Makau all the glory on 18 September when he returned for a title defense in Berlin where he lined-up against The Emperor himself in a showdown for the World record.


Makau had altered his training after his attempt at the World record at the same race last year fell victim to the weather and on the half way mark, he struck, deploying the ‘zig zag’ tactic fashioned by the late Samuel Wanjiru in Chicago a year before.


Running from one end of the road to the other just a few paces behind Gebrselassie, to use his shadow as a foil, Makau broke the Emperor at 27km when he shot past even the designated rabbits to charge for the tape.  


As anxious compatriots tuned to television sets, radios and mobile phones to monitor the race run at mid morning Kenyan time, Makau went out so fast that even a few missed steps towards the finish line could not stop him from breaking Gebre’s record by 21 seconds, the new standard standing at 2:03:38.


“It is one of my tactics. I did some zig-zags, to confuse him. I had a lot of energy, and wanted to tire him. He was trying to use me, to maintain the pace, and I wanted to run alone, either behind him or to the side, so I did a zig-zag to one side and he followed, I did it to the other side, and the next time, I couldn’t see him,” Makau said.


He added: “This (World record) is very special for the Kenyans, especially beating the Ethiopians. Everyone in Kenya will be happy for me. My manager is getting a lot of calls from Kenya, and I hear there were lots of people watching TV in bars, and breaking bottles when they saw the World record.”


On his return home, Makau who dodged a crowd of local and international reporters before they caught up with him 15km from the main airport, said the moment was long overdue.


“This time, the weather was so favourable and the sunny condition on Sunday was perfect. To be a champion and record holder for a marathon is something big. To do the World record with the record owner, Haile Gebrsellasie was special.”


He was quick to realize however, that he had now become a target, a point driven home by compatriot Wilson Kipsang who propelled to a 2:03:42 win in Frankfurt barely a month after Makau’s epic Berlin performance.



“This will cost a lot especially in my behaviour and values. I have to work harder to maintain my value. The World record can be broken if someone like I gets another chance to return to Berlin and attempt it but it can also be done at another city.”


On the same, his spouse added: “I will give him double the support I have been giving since now, he has to work harder to maintain his status but I know he can do it.”


Despite the fact his pal Geoffrey Mutai and Moses Mosop managed to run faster than him in 2011 in their incredible 2:03:02 and 2:03:04 performances on 18 April  in Boston (but course elevation and other factors ruled them as a World records) Makau had finally ascended to the throne of marathon running.


“This year has proved that no one can own the record and it is possible with discipline and focus to run fast times. I believe it shall be taken lower and I’m also among those aiming to do that but for next year, the Olympics are the top of my mind,” he stated when he was feted as the Male Sports Personality of the Year at the black tie annual Soya Awards in December.


Makau was also a finalist nominee for the World Male Athlete of the Year at the IAF World Gala in Monaco.


Dispute over payment issues saw him part ways with Landbrooke and he replaced him with Zane Branson as his representative. It was one of the decisions that brought out the inner steel masked so effectively by his demure exterior which has helped him make key decisions in his career and business enterprise.


Makau’s income has largely gone to support his and his wife’s extended families. He built a house for his parents and bought plots of land for other family members.


As Gebrselassie, the man he knocked off his perch has shown, it is possible to combine training and business and Makau’s first substantial business investment was a 10-unit apartment complex in Nairobi.


His economic interests include real estate, masonry and farming. He is erecting a number of commercial buildings in Machakos and native Tala besides engaging in coffee and maize cultivation in addition to cutting bricks for sale in Nairobi.


He is also into dairy farming with his product once again earmarked for the capital.

Makau’s success has consequently boosted a whole community. “At the moment, there are about 60 young people working in my estate with many more getting opportunities whenever activities peak,” he disclosed.


Furthermore, together with two athletes who inspired him on his way up, Muindi and Ivuti, Makau is involved in a training camp in Kangundo, a neighbouring village of Tala, for developing distance runners.


“It’s not money stuffed into a Swiss bank account, its money that��s working for the community,” Branson said.


Makau was named in the Kenyan Olympics Marathon squad probables list in January and he remains focused on making an impact in London. A week later (20 January), organisers of the London city marathon included him in their elite field where he will reacquaint himself with E. Mutai and Lel in what promises to be a cracker.



Yearly Progression

10km: 2006 - 28:55; 2007 – 28:03; 2008 – 28:19; 2009 – 27:42+

Half Marathon: 2005 - 62:00; 2006 - 1:02:42; 2007 – 58.56; 2008 – 59:29; 2009 – 58:52; 2010 – 59:51; 2011 – 63:51;

Marathon: 2009 - 2:06:14; 2010 - 2:04:38; 2011 - 2:03:48 (WR)


Personal Best

Half Marathon: 58.52 (2009)

Marathon: 2:03:38 WR (2011)


Career Highlights

May 2006         1st, Berlin 25k  

February 2007     2nd, Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon

April 2007       1st, Berlin Half Marathon

May 2007         1st, Berlin 25k

September 2007   2nd, Rotterdam Half Marathon

October 2007     2nd World Road Running Championships

February 2008     1st Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon

March 2008       1st Reading Half Marathon

March 2008       1St City-Pier-City Half Marathon

April 2008       1st Berlin Half Marathon

September 2008   1st Fortis Half Marathon – Rotterdam  

October 2008     2nd World Half Marathon Championships

February 2009     1st Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon

April 2009       4th Rotterdam Marathon

November 2009     DNF New York Marathon

April 2010       1st Rotterdam Marathon

September 2010   1st Berlin Marathon

April 2011       3rd London Marathon

September 2011   1st Berlin Marathon


Prepared by James Wokabi and Mutwiri Mutuota for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2007-2012