Record breaking has become a habit for Geoffrey Mutai and the organisers of the Ottawa 10km, an IAAF Silver Label Road Race, are hoping that the Kenyan can continue his addiction when he lines up in the Canadian capital on Saturday 25 May.
He set course records in winning both the Boston and New York marathons in 2011 and he then went on to win the 2012 Berlin Marathon in a personal best of 2:04:15 - the fourth fastest time in history.
This is the man who recorded history’s fastest marathon, 2:03:02 on the point-to-point Boston course, which is not eligible for world record purposes.
Although he has become renowned for his marathon victories, the 31-year-old is also a very competent runner over shorter distance, and set a brilliant course record of 27:19 at the 2011 Boston 10km, the ninth fastest time ever run.
A year ago, he won the Ottawa 10km in 27:47, crossing the line with almost a minute to spare. Assisted by Charles Kimeli, his friend and favourite pacemaker, Mutai reckons he can challenge both the course record of 27:24, set by Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga in 2009 and, possibly, Leonard Komon’s world record of 26:44.
“The course in Ottawa is not bad so I think a world record is, maybe, possible,” said Mutai.
“But for a 10km race it’s very important that weather conditions are good. I will need an athlete who can run a stable speed as pacemaker. I prefer a pacemaker from my own training group who knows me and I know him.
“I have good memories of Ottawa. There were a lot of people watching the race who were supporting me. That is stimulating a lot when you want to go for an ultimate result.
“You never can plan a world record. A world record comes or doesn’t come. And, of course it’s important how quickly I recover from the marathon,” he added, referring to the fact that he will compete in the Virgin London Marathon on 21 April.
“My training and preparation for the London marathon is going well. I can follow the program I want to do very well.”
He appears unconcerned with the amount of time he will have to recover from the Virgin London Marathon saying he tends to recover very quickly. After London, he will return to the home he shares with his wife and two children and slowly prepare for the Ottawa 10km.
Mutai trains with a large group in Kapng’tuny about 50 kilometres from the town of Eldoret.
“I’m not training alone. In my camp we have around fifty athletes, among them Dennis Kimetto (the fastest marathoner of all time), Franklin Chepkwony (with a 2:06:11 marathon best) and Wilfred Kirwa Kigen. Sometimes Wilson Kipsang (2012 Olympic bronze medalist) is training together with our group, especially with long runs.”
“I don’t think my training is really different from other athletes. The good thing is that we have a strong group and that makes me also stronger.”
Mutai, the eldest of nine children born into poverty, is an inspiration to many who know him.
As an elementary school student, his father lost his job at a local textile factory and his parents were unable to afford his school fees. His education, thus, came to an abrupt end.
Mutai then found employment in various jobs while taking up competitive distance running. At one point he worked as a lumberjack for the Kenya Power and Lighting Company.
“In that time I had an injury so I couldn’t train, but I needed money so I had to take that job. The job was only for two years and it was not dangerous for me. When I was free of my injury I started training again and in 2007 I finished in second position in the KassFm marathon in Eldoret, Kenya. There I met my manager, Gerard van de Veen from The Netherlands.
“I signed a contract with him and from that moment I knew that I now had the chance to make my career outside Kenya. In the year 2008, I won the Monaco Marathon and the Eindhoven Marathon, where I ran a course record.”
Success on the roads has led to financial prosperity but he hasn’t forgotten his roots or his responsibility to others. In a country where the Gross National Income per capita is just US$780, he is comparatively wealthy.
“When you earn good money your family expects something from your side. I support my family, my parents and my cousins financially, like helping them to build a house or by paying school fees for the children.
“I feel it is my responsibility and duty to help them so that they can have a good education to reach something in future,” commented Mutai.
Organisers for the IAAF