Wilson Kipsang: I’m still the world’s best marathon runner

Wilson Kipsang
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NEW YORK — Kenyan Wilson Kipsang said he remains the world’s best marathon runner, despite no longer holding the world record and losing his most recent 26.2-mile race.

“At the moment I consider myself,” Kipsang said Friday morning when asked who he thinks is No. 1. “Six races under 2:05. That’s not ever been done.”

Kipsang, 33, pointed to his unmatched consistency. His six marathons faster than 2 hours, 5 minutes, one per year since 2010, are twice as many as any other man in history.

Kipsang won three straight major marathons — Berlin in 2013 (then-world record 2:03:23), London in 2014 (2:04:29) and New York in 2014 (2:10:59). But his streak ended in London on April 26, when countryman Eliud Kipchoge defeated Kipsang by five seconds in 2:04:42.

“The last three miles, Kipchoge, he was a bit stronger,” said Kipsang, who also lost his world record Sept. 28, when countryman Dennis Kimetto won Berlin in 2:02:57. “I think the reason is that I tried to push too much from 35 [kilometers, or 21.7 miles].”

Kipsang is in New York to race the UAE Healthy Kidney 10km in Central Park on Saturday against a field that includes Kenyans Stephen Sambu, the fastest road 10km runner in 2014 and 2015, and former Berlin, Boston and New York City Marathon winner Geoffrey Mutai and four-time U.S. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman.

Kipsang, the 2012 Olympic marathon bronze medalist, hopes his next marathon is at the World Championships in Beijing on Aug. 22. He’s never competed at a Worlds but is on the provisional Kenyan roster of six, which must be trimmed to no more than three.

Kipsang said Friday his plan is to compete at Worlds and also defend his New York City Marathon title on Nov. 1, which would be his shortest turnaround between marathons, by 41 days, since his debut at the distance in 2010. The New York City Marathon elite fields are usually announced in September.

Kipsang was also asked which he valued more, winning an Olympic gold medal or reclaiming the world record. He didn’t choose one, instead lumping them together with a World Championships medal.

“I’m trying to see if I can get them all,” Kipsang said. “I’m trying to get the World Championships medal, then go for the Olympics and then the world record.”

Kipsang was also diplomatic when asked about his relationship with Athletics Kenya, his nation’s governing body for track and field that has drawn the ire of so many in the sport. In December, Kipsang said Athletics Kenya maliciously attempted to soil his name by announcing he missed a drug test the previous month, according to Kenyan media.

“The federation, we are trying to streamline some issues, but we are moving in the right way,” Kipsang said Friday. “The biggest issue is to bridge the gap between Athletics Kenya and the athletes. The office and the athletes need to be one.”

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