Honolulu, HI. – It has been quite the last two years for the exceptional Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. After an unofficial but stunning 2:00:25 sub-2 hour marathon record attempt in Italy last year, Kipchoge dashed to a fully legal 2:01:39 world record in Berlin this September, breaking Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 mark by 1:18. The time represented the widest margin that record had been broken since 1967 when Australia’s Derek Clayton lowered the record from 2:12:00 to 2:09:36 in Fukuoka, Japan. And Kipchoge’s run in Berlin followed a clear victory at this April’s London Marathon against one of the strongest field’s ever assembled in the event’s rich history.
Yesterday in Monaco, the 34-year-old Kipchoge was named 2018 IAAF Male Athlete of the Year for his efforts, joining Columbia’s triple jumper Caterine Ibargüen who was named Female AOY.
2018 marks the first time since the award began in 1988 that a marathon runner earned the prestigious AOY award on the men’s side (Paula Radcliffe of England took AOY honors in 2002 for women).
Not only did Kipchoge’s record in Berlin break the old mark by a wide margin, it was also the second year in a row that Kipchoge topped the world list as fastest marathoner of the year.
In the 21st Century to date, only Kipchoge, Dennis Kimetto in 2014 and 2015 and Geoffrey Mutai in 2011 and 2012 have posted the fastest marathon times two years running (though it is not recognized as a record-eligible course by the IAAF, I count the Boston Marathon in all yearly analyses).
But Mr. Kipchoge still has a way to go to match Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie who topped the list four years in a row from 2005 to 2008. What’s more, Haile’s gap on the second fastest man in that span was always substantial – :42 in 2005 & 2006; 2:03 in 2007; and :54 in 2008. This year Kipchoge’s 2:01:39 bettered Mosinet Geremew’s 2:04:00 winning time in Dubai by 2:21. Other years the margins hovered from :01 – :05 with an occasional:14 or:16.
No records are expected to fall this Sunday at the 46th running of the Honolulu Marathon as high trade winds are forecast for fourth largest American marathon. There was great anticipation, however, for the debut of Kenya’s world half-marathon record holder Joyceline Jepkosgei. But a tweak to a balky hamstring during her last hard workout last Friday has forced her to pull out.
With both course record holders Lawrence Cherono and Brigid Kosgei of Kenya not returning in 2018, the Honolulu Marathon crowns for both genders will be wide open. We will have full reports on the fields and race activities in the coming days.