Justin Lagat, the interviewer, with Francis Kipkoech Bowen, the interviewee
Justin Lagat wrote this piece about the amazing running of Francis Kipkoech Bowen, who will be aiming to break the World Masters record at the BMW Frankfurt Marathon on October 26. RunBlogRun will be covering the event live.
Francis Kipkoech Bowen Focused on World Masters’ Record in Frankfurt, by Justin Lagat
To find a Kenyan runner who is over the age of 40 and still runs competitively is rare. But, meet Francis Kipkoech Bowen, the 41 year old who has a personal best of 2:08.01 in marathon and is going for the world masters’ record in Frankfurt on the 26th of this month, besides having a remote chance to win the race as well.
Naturally, it would be expected that after dominating the world of distance running while at their prime age, Kenyan athletes would also be holding a number of world records in the masters’ categories as they grow older, but that isn’t the case. It is only one Kenyan, Edith Masai who has one such record in the women 5000m outdoor event. Bowen will be seeking to become the second Kenyan to hold a masters’ record in Frankfurt.
“Only seven seconds prevented me from breaking the record last year at the Chuncheon Marathon in South Korea
. I was actually under the record until the last stages of the race. I lost it within the last two kilometers of the race,” said Bowen. “This time round, it is my third time trying and I believe that I shall be able to do it.”
Another fascinating fact about Bowen is that he started running competitively when he was already over 30 years old. It got me thinking: How many have been discouraged that they are too old to compete internationally when they are only in their late 20s? Surely, Bowen’s performance will give hope to many other athletes, especially to Kenyans, who think that age could be catching up on them.
The last time Bowen ran Frankfurt marathon was in 2007, which was his second marathon after the first one which was also coincidentally in Frankfurt. His first and second marathon times were 2:10.49 and 2:10.41 respectively.
“By then, I was still new to the marathon distance. I actually ran my personal best time in my second marathon despite the fact that I had some health problems then,” explained Bowen. He believes that the Frankfurt course is faster than Chuncheon’s where he missed the record last year and is another reason he has hopes that he will break the 2:08.46 record, and perhaps get to better his personal best of 2:08.01 as well.
His training has been great, especially since he joined the Kimbia Athletics management beginning this year. “The training group with the new coach I now have and the support I am getting are all excellent,” he said.
As to what keeps him running competitively past the age of 40 years, he mentions discipline, determination and focus. Will his focus and determination bring down the world masters record next weekend? We can only wait to see.
Mexican Andres Espinosa who has held the masters world record of 2:08.46 since 2003, for runners over the age of 40, may still be having a few more days to enjoy it.