It was almost gratifying to see Marathon World record-holder Wilson Kipsang limp into the press conference the morning after clocking 2:03:23 in Berlin. These guys may be supermen, but a hard, fast run still reduces them – for however brief a period – to a similar state to the rest of us.
Nevertheless, Kipsang managed a 25-minute jog after breakfast. “I tried to go for a short run, to warm up the body, and recover from yesterday, but I was still feeling a lot of pain. But when I woke up, I was still feeling happy and excited to be the World record-holder. It’s still at the front of my mind.”
If Kipsang was feeling pain on the Marathon course the day before, it wasn’t evident as he strode to the World record, taking 15 seconds off Kenyan colleague Patrick Makau’s previous best of 2:03:38, set here in Berlin two years ago.
Makau incidentally was side-lined through injury, and went today to visit the celebrated Dr Hans Wilhelm Mueller-Wolfahrt in Munich in an attempt to get back on the road and retrieve his lost property.
Immediately after yesterday’s race, Kipsang talked about being inspired by seeing Kenyan legend Paul Tergat breaking the record here in Berlin ten years ago with 2:04:55. But it was a little more than watching a famous compatriot, as Kipsang explained on Monday (30).
“I know him very well, we are from the same area, almost family. When he broke the World record here ten years ago, I was just starting training. He talked to me a lot, advising me on how I should train, how I should discipline myself, and I really tried to follow what he said.”
Kipsang is now returning the compliment, as head of a training group which can expand to 200 runners on some days.
“You need a leader. When you have a group of people, they disagree, so I say, ‘guys, we’re going to do an hour and ten minutes, and this is the route’. For those guys to accept your opinion, you need to have done it yourself and been successful. Then leadership comes automatically.”
After this latest feat, there will be even less inclination to dispute his opinion. As for future plans, they will feature no shortage of invitations, as Kipsang admits. “Now everybody wants me to run their race, but after a three-week rest my manager will look at the invitations to shorter races and then we’ll decide. And my next Marathon will probably be next year in April.”
That supposes, if not another trip to London – where he won in 2012 and took the Olympic bronze later that summer but could only finish seventh this year – then Boston is a big alternative.
At 31, unless he can reproduce the longevity of a Gebrselassie, who was breaking World records in his late thirties, Kipsang’s chances of another record are likely to diminish rapidly, although the fact he was a relative latecomer to running should work in his favour.
“I will try my best to still break the record, but I will also go for a World or Olympic title,” he said. “Whichever comes first.”
Pat Butcher for the IAAF