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The women

World Marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei, 2020 Valencia Marathon winner Peres Jepchirchir and Ruth Chepngétich, have been named to the Kenyan team to race the marathon at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Chepngétich is the defending World Marathon Champion. The three own personal bests of 2:14:04, 2:17:16 and 2:17:08, respectively. On the all-time list they are 1st, 4th and 5th fastest and the three best by active athletes.

Kosgei is also the world half-marathon record holder with her 2019 performance of 64:28 accomplished in the Great North Run. Jepchirchir is the world half-marathon record holder in the women’s only category, which she ran during the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships in the time of 65:16 in Gydnia, POL on Oct. 2020.

Multiple world champion and 2016 Rio Olympic 5,000m gold medallist and 10,000m silver medallist, Vivian Cheruiyot is also named to the team. Cheruiyot has run the 14th fastest time in history with her 2:18:31 from London 2018.

It is a stunning women’s team that has the potential to sweep the Tokyo Olympic Marathon happening Aug. 8 in Sapporo.

Kosgei, a mother of two, broke Paula Radcliffe’s long-standing marathon record in Chicago 2019. She told Athletics Illustrated, “I did try to go for it [the record] in that race. During training, I was in very good shape so according to my coach, he felt that we should try to go after the world record. So, we went to better Paula’s time and of course, I ended up running 2:14:04 in Chicago that year.”

She didn’t fare so well during the rescheduled London Marathon in October, where athletes ran into cold, damp temperatures and wind. She will be looking for redemption.

The Men

Vincent Kipchumba joins marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge, World Marathon Championships bronze medallist, Amos Kipruto and 2019 Boston Marathon winner Lawrence Cherono.

Kipchoge, has run 2:01:39, however, like Kosgei suffered during the 2020 London Marathon and had a sub-par performance by his standards.

Kipruto has run as fast as 2:03:30 which he accomplished during the 2020 Valencia Marathon. It is the 18th fastest marathon all-time and 8th fastest of active runners. Cherono is even faster. During the same Valencia race, he clocked a 2:03:04, the 10th fastest time in history to finish in second place.

Kipchumba is the dark horse in the group of four Kenyans scheduled to toe the line on Aug. 8. He has run 2:05:09 and is the winner of the 2019 Amsterdam Marathon. The 30-year-old competed well in London 2020 finishing second in 2:05:42. He also won the 2019 Vienna City Marathon in the time of 2:06:56.

Kipchoge, often referred to as Buddha for his calm demeanor and quotable persona told Athletics Illustrated during an interview, “I am running because I love the sport and above all, it has earned myself a life. Even after retirement, I will still jog in all big city marathons. I will also travel the whole world to sensitize kids on the importance of sport and above all how sport helps to kick out lifestyle diseases.”

The 36-year-old will be seeking a kick at redemption in Sapporo. Expect both Kosgei and Kipchoge to make the race honest on Aug. 8, but they will have stiff competition internationally and from within their own team.