Throwback: A look into Eliud Kipchoge's blistering full marathon debut in 2013

ATHLETICS Throwback: A look into Eliud Kipchoge's blistering full marathon debut in 2013

Mark Kinyanjui 12:27 - 29.02.2024

Eliud Kipchoge is set to take part in his 20th full marathon in Tokyo this weekend, but this is how he performed on his full debut in Hamburg in 2013.

Eliud Kipchoge has cemented his status as arguably one of the best if not the best marathoners of all time since moving from track to road a little over a decade ago.

He remains the first and to this day the only person on earth to run a marathon in under two hours (though unofficial) when he coasted through the streets of Vienna Austria, and has held and broken his record twice, until last year when the late Kelvin Kiptum broke his record in Chicago.

Kenyans have been on his case since Kiptum broke his record, but forget that he has worked very hard to build a reputation for himself on the road, especially considering that he was initially a 5000 meters specialist who won medals at the Olympics and World Championships in the event.

It was in 2013 that he fully ventured into road racing, and after doing well in the Barcelona Half Marathon in a time of one hour and four seconds, he opted to go for the big one, the 42-kilometer race at the Haspa Marathon Hamburg.

He set a course record of 2:05:30 at that IAAF Gold Label Road Race.

"I promised a course record and I did it. It was great to have all the people along the course supported me," said a delighted and slightly relieved Kipchoge after his victory in World Athletics.

How Kipchoge dominated his debut full marathon

Then 28, he broke away from a five-man leading pack at 33km, splintering the group immediately before crossing the line 28 seconds faster than the previous record set last year by compatriot Bernard Koech.

A sizable leading pack, comprising 15 men, including pacemakers, cruised through the 10km mark in 29:51. The leaders maintained a consistent pace, covering almost metronomic three minutes per kilometer, achieving the 15km milestone in 44:52. The relentless pace continued, with the 20km mark reached in 59:57, just marginally outside the 2:06 pace.

Approaching the halfway point, 13 men remained at the front, clocking 1:03:12, slightly below the 1:02:45 target set by race organizers for the pacemakers to pursue a course record.

A stretch between 25km and 30km, lasting 14:45, coupled with three pacemakers stepping out, resulted in a gradual reduction of the leading pack.

By the time they reached 30km in 1:29:45, six men emerged at the forefront: the persistent Kenyan pacemaker Philemon Yator, Kipchoge and Wilson Kiprop, and a trio of Ethiopians – Limenih Getachew, Yekeber Baybal, and Belay Asefa.

Subsequently, at the 33km mark, Kipchoge showcased his class, accelerating and stretching out the remaining runners with aspirations of landing on the podium.

Decisive move at 33km

By the 35km mark, Kipchoge had surged ahead, establishing a 14-second lead over Limenih Getachew, who reached this checkpoint in 1:44:16. Wilson Kiprop trailed another 12 seconds behind Getachew, and Belay Asefa held the fourth position, 57 seconds behind the leading Kipchoge.

In the ensuing five kilometers, as fatigue set in for those behind him, Kipchoge maintained his relentless pace, extending his lead over Getachew to 1:16.00 Kipchoge reached the 40km mark in 1:58:59, showcasing his dominance as the rest of the field struggled.

Behind the leading duo, Lawrence Kimaiyo, the victor in Kosice the previous year with a personal best of 2:07:01, advanced from sixth at the 35km mark to claim the third spot with two kilometers remaining. The top three positions remained unchanged, with Kipchoge widening his lead.

Ultimately, Getachew secured the second spot after finishing second in his Marathon debut in Cologne with a time of 2:07:35, improving his personal best by four seconds. Kimaiyo finished a distant third with a time of 2:10:27.

Kipchoge has since gone on to do 19 more full marathons, with one of those being the INEOS 1:59 challenge in 2019.

As he readies himself to take part in the Tokyo Marathon this weekend as part of his preparations for the Paris 2024 Olympics, he will be looking back at his debut race with fond memories.