Eliud Kipchoge said he developed an upper left leg issue about 18 miles into Monday’s Boston Marathon, shortly before he was dropped from the lead pack en route to finishing sixth for his third defeat in 18 career 26.2-mile races.
“My left leg actually was not coming up anymore,” he said Tuesday. “That’s the problem is you try to do [what is] necessary, but it was not working. I put my mind just to run in a comfortable pace and just to finish.”
Kipchoge, a two-time Olympic champion and the world record holder, developed the issue after the first two of Boston’s famed four Newton Hills. Those hills make Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon, stand out from the marathons that Kipchoge has run the most — the flatter Berlin and London.
Kipchoge walked with a limp immediately after finishing in 2:09:23, the slowest marathon of his career. After he came to a stop on Boylston Street, he touched his left leg and motioned to it while a member of his team helped him put on a jacket.
“It’s just a problem on the leg,” he said Tuesday when asked to elaborate on the injury. “What can I say? I’m not a doctor.”
Kipchoge said that a lot was going through his mind at that turning point in the race, but he was determined not to quit. He has never dropped out of a marathon.
“They say it’s important to win, but it’s great to participate and finish,” he said. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is the lesson.”
Kipchoge, 38, said that he absolutely will consider running Boston again. This year, he eschewed his usual London Marathon start to make his Boston debut as part of his goal to become the first runner to win all six annual World Marathon Majors.
Kipchoge previously won Berlin, Chicago, London and Tokyo. The lone annual major he has yet to race is New York City, which takes place in November.
Kipchoge was asked whether he could race New York City this fall and said he hasn’t decided what his next marathon will be.
Come next year, Kipchoge will be older than every Boston Marathon men’s champion since 1930. Depending on what happens in the fall, he may also be fighting for a spot Kenya’s three-man Olympic marathon team for the Paris Games.
He will be older than any previous Kenyan Olympic track and field athlete and older than any previous Olympic gold medalist in any running event, according to Olympedia.org.
Kipchoge wants to become the first person to win three Olympic marathons, but three Kenyans finished ahead of him in Boston, including Evans Chebet, who has now won three consecutive major marathons (Boston 2022, New York City 2022 and Boston 2023). Another Kenyan, Benson Kipruto, finished third on Monday after winning Boston in 2021 and Chicago in 2022.
Sunday’s London Marathon includes more star Kenyans, notably 2022 London champ Amos Kipruto and Kelvin Kiptum, a 23-year-old who won the Valencia Marathon in December and became the third-fastest man in history.
Kipchoge, who follows many sports, knows how quickly things can change in his event, where the best traditionally race just twice a year.
“I can’t win every time,” he said. “Lewis Hamilton has been world champion for seven times and was beaten for the eighth time by Max [Verstappen]. That’s life.”
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