Benjamin Kipkoech LIMO (LEE-moh), Kenya (3000m/ 5000m, cross)
Born 23 August 1974, Chepkongony, near Kaptagat, Rift Valley Province, Kenya
Lives mainly in Chepkongony. Senior Sapper, Kenya Army. 1.80m / 65 kg
Married Margaret Maiyo 1999. Children: Marion Jepkemoi (b 1998), Diana Jeruto (b 2000), Sharon Jerotich (b 2002), Tony Kigen (b 2005).
Finished three years of secondary at Chebara and Lelboinet High Schools.
Manager: Ricky Simms (PACE).
Native language: Keiyo (Kalenjin). Third of nine children of peasant farmers.
Ran middle distances in secondary school with some success, reaching provincial schools championships in 1500m. Enlisted in Kenya Army in 1993 after third year of secondary school, having impressed recruiters with his running. After basic training, hoped to join Army’s full-time athletes, but injured in bus accident shortly before tryout. Took combat engineering course instead and finally joined ranks of full-time athletes in may 1996, training at Army’s Ngong Base outside Nairobi.
Earned spot on Kenya’s 1998 World Cross team and signed by manager Kim McDonald. On first trip outside Kenya, finished 4th in inaugural World Cross 4k race in Marrakech. After half a dozen Grand Prix appearances (including PBs 13:07.38 and 7:41.95), he established himself as one of Kenya’s leading 5000m men. In 1999, in the absence of injured defending champion John Kibowen, Limo won the World Cross 4k in Belfast and went on to a distinguished GP season (new PBs of 7:28.67 and 12:55.86 – one of four sub-13s for the year), culminating in a silver medal at the Seville World Championships, where he charged from 4th to 2nd on the home straight and ran out of track before reaching leader Salah Hissou (12:58.72 to 12:58.18).
Missed all of cross country and much of track season in 2000 with injuries, and saw comparatively limited action in 2001 as well (World Cross 4k bronze, but failed to make Kenya’s team for the Edmonton World Championships). Sufficiently recovered by 2002 to win 5000m silver in both the Manchester Commonwealth Games and the African Championships in Tunisia and finish 1st or 2nd in the event in four Golden League meets.
2003 saw another World Cross 4k bronze, as former champs Limo and Kibowen made a determined but unsuccessful run at the newly dominant Kenenisa Bekele. Set a PB (12:54.99) finishing 3rd in Paris GL 5000, but once again failed to make Kenya’s World Championships team.
2004 was almost entirely wiped out by injury, but the long rest led to resurgence in 2005. In May he came within half a second of his six-year-old 1500m PB (3:38.1) in the Kenyan Armed Forces Championships and dipped under 7:30 (7:29.60) for 3000m in the Doha GP. The next month he finished a close 2nd (13:11.5) to Isaac Songok’s remarkable altitude time of 13:11.1 (the Kenya all-comers record) in the World Championships trials. Then in Helsinki he put his years of experience and remarkably youthful acceleration to good use, content to jog with the cautious lead pack before storming past the favorites in the final 100m to win (13:32.55) – much the same approach that had brought him up just short in Seville six years earlier.
Limo’s first aim in 2006 was to add the Commonwealth Games 5000m gold to his World Championship. He wasn’t quite ready to match the relentless pace set by his teammate Augustine Choge and wound up settling for bronze (13:05.30), but he now joins Choge and Songok in mounting the most formidable challenge Kenenisa has yet faced in the World Cross 4k.
Yearly progression (3000/ 5000): 1998 – 7:41.95/ 13:07.38; 1999 – 7:28.67/ 12:55.86; 2000 – 7:37.73/ 12:55.82; 2001 – 7:33.10/ 12:59.53; 2002 – 7:34.72/ 12:57.24; 2003 – 7:33.13/ 12:54.99; 2004 - --/ 13:31.25; 2005 – 7:29.60/ 12:55.26; 2006 - --/ 13:05.30.
Prepared by John Manners for the IAAF. © 2006 IAAF.