Laban Korir will return to the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on 18 October to defend the title he won in 2014 and, if the conditions are right, attack the course record at the IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
The 29-year-old Kenyan surprised everyone, himself included, when he ran away from the rest of the field a year ago to claim victory in 2:08:15 in chilly conditions. With a personal best of 2:06:05 from the 2011 Amsterdam Marathon, Korir is a quality marathon runner and an early favourite to win this year’s event.
“First I want thank the organisers for inviting me again to Toronto,” said Korir, speaking from his training base in Kaptagat, high up in the Rift Valley.
“This year I'm there to defend. At the moment, I'm OK and the body is responding very well. If everything goes well, as it is at the moment, and the weather will be OK, not like last year, I will come for the course record.”
Ethiopia’s Derissa Chimsa’s holds the record with 2:07:05 from 2013.
Korir is in the same training camp in Kaptagat as fellow Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge, winner of the 2015 London and 2014 Chicago marathons, and Geoffrey Kamworor, the world cross-country champion.
Another notable name in the group is Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich, the Olympic champion.
Training up to 200 kilometres a week with this talented group has provided a huge motivation for Korir to rise to the very top of elite marathoners.
“Eliud has inspired me a lot,” Korir csaid. “He is my role model. He used to teach us many things on how to succeed in life, and how to train. After training sessions we meet at the camp and have lunch or tea and discuss how the session went.
“My major goal in my career is to run (a marathon in) 2:05 and follow the footsteps of top guys in Kenya like Eliud, and the rest.”
Earlier this year, Korir ran 2:07:54 to finish sixth in the Paris Marathon then, following a comfortable recovery period, he has begun his buildup for Toronto.
“According to my manager and my coach, to stay longer in this career you need a good plan. Two marathons a year is OK for an athlete’s future,” he added.
Jumping for joy
“I chose Toronto this year because I need to defend my title. I also like the fun people of Toronto, they are so cheerful. What I enjoyed last year was the course and the cheering. What I still remember is the great finish and jumping into that guy at the finishing line.”
A representative of Toronto’s East African community handed the athletes their national flags as they crossed the line, and Korir leaped into his arms in a show of jubilation.
Also at the finish line were members of the Kenyan High Commission who celebrated Korir’s victory. After the race Korir joined fellow Kenyans and Ethiopians at an Ethiopian restaurant for a post-race dinner which has become a tradition at the Toronto Waterfront race.
Like his compatriots, Korir has used prize money from races to buy land on which to grow produce for his family and to take to market. When he is not training or resting between sessions he enjoys time at home with his family.
“Life in Kenya is great. After training I like resting and watching Nigerian movies. They are funny guys from Nigeria.
“I sell my products – maize and tea – to factories in Kenya. I sell some of it at the market and the rest is for my family. For now, I have no other business. Maybe in the future after the running career I will.”
Race director Alan Brookes has already announced that two-time Canadian Olympian Eric Gillis, who ran a personal best of 2:11:21 last year in Toronto, will return to the race for his fifth appearance. In addition, this year’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will serve as the Canadian Marathon Championship.
Paul Gains (organisers) for the IAAF