2014 BMW Berlin Diary: Interview with Emmanuel Mutai, by Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy wrote this piece on Emmanuel Mutai at the Berlin Press conference held earlier on Friday, Berlin time. Cathal noted that he had a few minutes nearly by himself with Emmanuel as everyone was around Dennis Kimetto. Cathal, one of our newest correspondents, gets that one is only as good as their last race. Kimetto is talking up a world record, but Mutai should give him a hell of a race, regardless."

Enough said. 

Emmanuel Mutai, Eldoret, Kenya, 2012, photo by PhotoRun.net

Kenya's Emmanuel Mutai sat down with RunBlogRun on Friday to discuss his hopes for this Sunday's Berlin Marathon. The 29-year-old comes to the German capital off the back of a disappointing seventh-place finish in London this year, but is confident that he can reproduce or even surpass his best time of 2:03:52 this weekend. 

Mutai has an enviable record in the marathon majors, having been a winner in London in 2011 (2:04:40), second in New York that same year (2:06:28) and more recently, second to Dennis Kimetto in the Chicago Marathon last year in a personal best of 2:03:52. 

On Sunday, Mutai will renew his rivalry with Kimetto in what is expected to be a fast race, with pacemakers set to take the field through halfway in 61:40 - under world record pace. 

Cathal Dennehy: How have preparations gone for this weekend's race?

Emmanuel Mutai: Very well. After London in April, I trained very well with no problems. I've been training in Kenya, which was sometimes challenging because of the rain. Since I started my training, I have had no problems. It should be a very good day for me.

CD: How many kilometres a week do you usually run when in marathon training?

EM: Between 250-280km (155-173 miles) per week. I usually train with Eliud Kipchoge, Bernard Kipyego and other athletes. We are under the same coach.

CD: Why did you pick Berlin this year?

EM: I've been aiming to run Berlin since I started my career in the marathon. In the past, I didn't have the chance to come here, but this year I got that chance, so I decided: this is my opportunity, let me go for it. 

CD: How does your shape compare to this time last year, when you ran 2:03:52 in Chicago?

EM: There is nothing I changed, maybe a little more training volume. My shape is good. 

CD: Who do you see as your biggest competitor on Sunday?

EM: You know, when you come to a competition, you don't know the shape of other athletes, you just prepared to win, so I don't mind if this person is strong or that person. Also, you can never tell who will run a good race who wasn't expected to, so you just have to be ready for everything. 

CD: Has your training changed much since you started doing marathons back in 2008?

EM: I have not changed a lot, but as the time goes on the competition is always getting stronger, so you have to see other ways to tackle races. You have to see what extra training you can put in to keep up with the level of others.

CD: What have you learned about the marathon in the last few years?

EM: For the last three years, the time you usually needed to run was 2:04, but now it's 2:03. If you want to be at that level you have to do extra work. If you are not in the top 10 in the world, it's not much use, so you have to train to be able to meet your expectation. 

CD: Do you think you can challenge the world record?

EM: When I ran 2:03 in Chicago, I was not expecting the time, but I felt great, and it made me realise 2:03 is possible. I cannot say I am going for the world record; most importantly, it's to win the race first. If you run to beat the best athletes, then you have to race fast, and by doing that you run fast times. 

CD: So you plan to go with the leader on Sunday, regardless of what pace you're running?

EM: Yes.

CD: Is it the case that most young Kenyan athletes grow up wanting to be marathoners these days, rather than 5,000m or 10,000m athletes?

EM: Most of the young athletes are changing from the track to the marathon, but it's good to start with the track. If you are young, you may want to move to the marathon, but the age limits your performance. For me, I wanted most to run on the track, but my performance was not good enough. When I came to the road, my performance was good so I stayed with that. Some athletes go the marathon too early, and then you cannot stay at it for a long time. If I was 18 or 20 when I moved to the marathon, I could not have run the marathons I've run in recent years. 

CD: Looking back on your career, was winning London in 2011 the highlight?

EM: Yeah, my best highlights are where I ran good races, so London was special for me.

CD: Have you seen the Berlin course yet?

EM: No, but I've been studying the map, watched a video of the race, so even though I haven't seen it, I'm prepared for it.

CD: What advice would you give to a young Kenyan athlete hoping to follow in your footsteps?

EM: I'd advise them to start training, but don't focus on marathon yet. Stay on the track, and move to the marathon as time goes, only when you are ready. 

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