© Copyright – 2023 – Athletics Illustrated

“Truth, like a torch, the more it’s shook it shines.”

William Douglas Hamilton, Scottish aristocrat, and diplomat to the Kingdom of Naples

Kiptum to surpass Kipchoge on the streets of Paris

Kelvin Kiptum will surpass Eliud Kipchoge as the all-time greatest marathon runner during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. That is, if he has not already done so with his world record 2:00:35 performance in Chicago one month ago. Or the fact that his first three marathons have all been in the 2:01s or 2:00s, the torch will be passed in Paris. Kiptum is 3-and-0 in the win column and young.

According to Athletics Kenya, both athletes have expressed interest in representing Kenya in the Games. Kiptum should better Kipchoge, mano-a-mano, the type of rivalry that was missed when Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele were at their best. Kiptum at just 23 seems ready to break the two-hour barrier, something the 39-year-old Kipchoge did only in a time trial with much assistance.

Only injury or illness could stop the transfer of the mantle with one exception.

“We have already had discussions with the top athletes like Kipchoge, Kiptum, Peres Kipchirchir and the others,” Athletics Kenya Executive member and chairman of Youth Development Barnaba Korir told Citizen TV on Monday.

“They have already shown the interest that they want to compete so we have enough athletes and already, within this week or next week, they will announce the team that will compete in the Paris Olympics next year.”

“Already, it has been established and the names will be released for those who will be going to compete and the substitutes if there is any problem so we are all set with that one,” added Korir.

The exceptions

Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei currently holds the world records in the 5000m (12:35.36) and 10,000m (26:11.00) distances. The 27-year-old has yet to compete over the marathon distance. If anyone is going to give Kiptum a run for his money, it may be Cheptegei. Bekele, who previously held the world records over 5000m and 10,000m ran the Berlin Marathon in 2:01:41 while battling rain and wind. The general consensus is that Bekele could have had a more productive marathon career if he started earlier. He was also a 12-time World Cross Country Champion, doubling most years in the short and long distances.

Cheptegei won the 2019 World Cross Country Championships that took place in Aarhus, Denmark. He is also the Tokyo Olympic 5000m gold medallist.

Fellow Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo should be in the conversation of who will take the title as world’s greatest marathon runner. Kiplimo has proven to also be fast on the track with his 12:41.73 and 26:33.93 performances. He also owns the half-marathon world record at 57:31 from Lisbon 2021.

Kiplimo won the Bathurst World Cross Country Championships earlier this year, to help Uganda take a team bronze medal.

Finally, someone who may need to prove himself a little more is Kenyan Kibiwott Kandie, but his half-marathon best from Valencia three years ago proves he has the speed and endurance. Clocking the world record at 57:32, it is now the second-fastest performance, by just one second and is the national record. After laying fallow for a couple of years with inconsistent performances Kandie came back on Oct. 22 this year with a fine Valencia half-marathon performance of 57:40. The performance proved that not only can he race fast times, Kandie can battle to the line and come out the victor. In that Valencia race, he went to the line against Ethiopians Yomif Kejelcha and Hagos Gebrhiwet, who tied clocking 57:41. Kejelcha was given second and Gebrhiwet third. The Ethiopian-Kenyan historic rivalry was on display that day.

Cover photo:
2017 Berlin Marathon
Berlin, Germany September 24, 2017
Photo credit: Victah Sailer@PhotoRun