Mark Kiptoo wins 2014 BMW Frankfurt Marathon, by improving one place over 2013! by Larry Eder

The marathon, as many have said before me, is a cruel mistress. Some of the most fit athletes can show up and have bad days, then, some of the most fit athletes can loose by a short margin, and be haunted for the next year about their performance. 

Consider, if you will, the story of Mark Kiptoo.

Updated 4 pm Sunday, October 26, with photos and more trivia. 

Mark Kiptoo is, relentless, 2014 BMW Frankfurt Marathon, photo by

Mark Kiptoo wins the 2014 BMW Frankfurt Marathon, photo by

In 2013, Mark Kiptoo, in his debut marathon, at the ripe old age of 37, battled Vincent Kipruto for 26.1 miles and lost in the last one hundred meters, by one second. 

One second! 

Thumbnail image for Kiptoo-KiprutoH-Frankfurt13.JPG
and then, there were three, BMW Frankfurt 2013, 
photo by

How many times did Mark Kiptoo run that last hundred meters through his head during training runs in Kenya this past year. Training well, Mark Kiptoo ran a 1:01.34 half marathon this year in the Glasgow Half marathon. He told the press on Thursday night that he was well prepared, and at least as fit as 2013. 

Many, including I, considered Vincent Kipruto very hard to beat today. 

And, that is the way that it looked like out there today, early on.

Many had spoken about Tsegaye Mekonnen, the 2:04.32 marathoner who won the Dubai International marathon in his first race at the distance last January. 

Many agents spoke of others who looked good in their preparations. But, Christoph Kopp, the elite athlete director, had assembled a fine field in Frankfurt. Strong, experienced pacemakers, and a field with ten guys who could all run under 2:10, plus some serious debut marathoners made the men's field fantastic. 

In near perfect conditions, the race was off at 10 in the morning, a quite civilized time for this jet-lagged journalist. 

Mark Kiptoo has leg speed, here is running 5,000m, from 2013, adidas NYC, 
photo by

Mark Kiptoo and Vincent Kipruto had asked for 62:30 for the first half marathon, and they were given just that, well, two seconds off, in 62:32.

The pace making chores were done by three pace makers, with fourteen athletes in the pack. 

Hitting the 5k in 14:41, 10k in 29:23 and 15k in 44:13, the pack did not change upfront. The elite pack hit the 20k in 59:15 and half marathon in 62:32 as Mark Kiptoo, Vincent Kipruto, Tsegaye Mekonnen, Mike Kigen, Gilbert Yegon, Tebalu Zawude, among others were upfront. 

Hitting the half marathon in 62:32, in cool conditions, mid 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and little wind, was such a departure from last year, when the weather gods were a key player in the event. 

Arne Gabius in NYC Half (62:09, eighth, March 2014), 
photo by

Running 1:05.08 for the first half was Arne Gabius, the German 5,000 meter champion from 2007-2013, with a personal best of 13:12 for the 5,000 meters from 2012. Arne Gabius had moved from Deiter Baumann as his long time coach, to Renato Canova, the famous Italian coach. Last summer, Arne and I shared a flight back from a Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, where he spoke about his plans for the fall after the European champs. Having trained well in August and September, Arne ran 28.08 for the 10k two weeks before the marathon. Obviously, Arne had been considering the marathon for a bit, as he had raced the NYC Half last March in 62:09, for eighth place. 

" I want to run 2:10 to 2:12 in my first marathon," Arne told me this past weekend. 

In his first half of the marathon, running with Andre Pollmacher, the German marathoner, Arne ran 15:23 for 5k, 30:52 for 10k, and 46:16 for 15k. Arne Gabius was staying out of trouble. 

Jack Waitz and Katrin Dorre had cautioned Arne to stay conservative until 35k, as he had noted, if he felt well, he would move at 30k. 

Upfront the race started to take some character. The pace dropped from a sub 2:04 pace to a 2:05 pace. For the men upfront, that was just about perfect, as this was turning into a race that fourteen men could win. 

The 25k was hit in 1:14.15.

And in the sixteenth kilometer, the race began to take some shape. Tsegaye Mekonnen started to drop back, and was one hundred meters down by 26 kilometers. Mekonnen would not finish (per our information at this writing). 

Arne Gabius had begun to race, from 25-30 kilometers, Gabius ran 15:13, A fine split, and was under 2:10 pace for the first time in the race. But, was it too early?

For the elite leaders, the pace stayed 2:05 pace, as the front pack of fourteen racers and two pacers hit 30k in 1:29:15. 

Kiptoo, Kigen, Yegon, all looked good. Kipruto was starting to look like he was having issues, and as the elite lead pack hit 31 kilometers in 1:31;14, Vincent Kipruto was in trouble.

And in short time, the 2013 defending champion was not going to be able to defend his title. We have not found out if Vincent Kipruto finished, but he was not in the top ten. 

32 kilometers was passed in 1:35.15, as the last pace maker, Ronald Korir, dropped back, but did not leave the race, as the other pace makers had. Mr. Korir would play a pivotal role in the final ten kilometers. 

The lead pack ran 15:07 from thirty kilometers to thirty-five kilometers, as Mark Kiptoo, Mike Kigen, Gilbert Yegon, Ronald Korir, and Tebalu Zawude traded looks and prepared for the long run home. 

As the leaders were running 30-35 kilometers, so was Arne Gabius, who as he had told Jack Waitz, would see what he could do, per Renato Canova, from 30k on. Arne Gabius ran 15:12 for the 5k from 30-35k, his fastest of the race, and dropped for the second time, under 2:10 marathon pace! 

Could Arne do it, or, was he going too fast? 

Back up front, the lead was changing as fast as one could blink their eyes (well, not really, but give me some literary license please). Tabalu Zawude, an Ethiopian who has run 2:08.20, charged into the lead and pushed, then, Mike Kigen and Gilbert Yegon, 2:08.24 PB and 2:06.18 PB, respectively, traded leads. 

Mark Kiptoo, second last year, fell off the pack for a bit. 

"My plan was to push from behind. But, I had a problem with my left leg." was how Mark Kiptoo described his crisis.

Then, with the speed that he had dropped off the pace, Mark Kiptoo charged up front, and took the lead once again.

The race was at 40k in 1:59:51.

At this time, Ronald Korir, the pace maker who would finish sixth, had just dropped back. Gilbert Yegon, Mike Kigen and Mark Kiptoo were all together. 

The sentimental favorite was the old guy, Mark Kiptoo, who is 38 years old. My gray hairs were cheering for him! 

Kiptoo is the former African 5000m champ and 10,000m silver medalist. A member of the Kenyan armed forces for nearly two decades, Mark Kiptoo knows what to do when it gets tough. 

When it gets tough, one gets going.

"When I caught them, I was only trying to encourage them because Kigen is my training partner. But, then, I saw that he was tired, so I pressed on." related Kiptoo. 

Mark Kiptoo went to the front, and looked straight ahead, but one could see he was in trouble with one kilometer to go.

Could he hold on?

Mike Kigen was one hurting runner too!  Kigen told the media afterwardsa:" I was feeling confident, but I had a stitch for the last two kilometers. So, I slowed down. But, I am happy because Mark is my training partner.

Somehow, Mark Kiptoo, not wanting to spend another year reliving his second place in Frankfurt, pulled it together and ran very gutty last kilometer, putting ten seconds on his training partner, Mike Kigen.

After waiting a year, Mark Kiptoo won the BMW Frankfurt Marathon the same way he lost it in 2013: Mark Kiptoo sprinted better than anyone else, and ran 2:06:49, improving by one place,

But, what a difference one place is today for Mark Kiptoo! 

Mark Kiptoo took 6:49 to run the last 2.2 kilometers, that is about 4:40 per mile pace!

Mark Kiptoo was the 2014 BMW Frankfurt marathon winner in 2:06.49. His training partner, Mike Kigen, was second in 2:06.59, a PB of 1:25! Gilbert Yegon was third in 2:07.08. In fourth, Tebalu Zawude ran 2:07.10, his PB by 70 seconds! Deribe Robi ran 2:07:16 for fifth, his PB by 64 seconds! Daniel Wanjiru ran 2:08.18 in his debut for sixth. Adugna Tekele, in his debut, ran 2:08.31 for eighth!

And, then, comes Arne Gabius. 

Our German friend, Arne Gabius had charged home from 30 kilometers on. From 30-35, he ran 15:13, from 35-40k he ran 15:24, and then, gutted it out, grinding into ninth place in the last 300 meters, and running the fastest finish of the day, 6:40 over the last 2.2 kilometers! 

Arne Gabius came across the line with a huge smile and the confidence of a race well run. Gabius became not only the first German under 2:13, a feat not done since 2000, but also the fastest German marathon since 1990, when Stephan Freigang ran 2:09.45. 

One other bit of trivia on Arne: his debut is second fastest ever by a German marathoner. Jorg Peter ran 2:09.14 in his debut. 

Arne Gabius, Stockholm DL, August 2014, photo by

In fact, Arne Gabius is now number four on the German all time list (Jorg Peter, 2:08.47, 1988, Michael Heilmann, 2:09:03, 1985, Christophe Herle, 2:09.23, 1985), pushing one Waldemar Cierpinski out of the top five (2:09.55, 1976, Olympic champion)!

Ironically, the night before, Katrin Dorre, the famous German women marathoner, and now coach, had told me how much Germany needed some good male marathoners. 

With Arne Gabius, who has one foot in the marathon, and one foot in the track, they have one! 

Arne Gabius is ninth, first German, fastest German marathoner since 1990! 
photo by

One final note: In an audio interview with Mark Kiptoo, Andy Edwards of the Race News Service told RunBlogRun that Mark Kiptoo thinks he can run 2:04. His big goal though: in two years, at the age of 40, Mark Kiptoo wants to break the Masters record for the marathon! (That record is 2:08.47, by Andres Espinoza, Mexico, FYI). 

2014 BMW Frankfurt Marathon, top ten men, 1. Mark Kiptoo, Kenya, 2:06.49, 2. Mike Kigen, Kenya, 2:06.59, 3. Gilbert Yegon, KEN, 2:07.08, 4. Tebalu Zawude, ETH, 2:07.10, 5. Deribe Robi, ETH, 2:07.16, 6. Ronald Korir, KEN, 2:07.29, 7. Daniel Wanjiru, KEN, (U23), 2:08.18, 8. Adugna Takele, ETH, 2:08.31, 9. Arne Gabius, Germany, 2:09.32 (fastest German since 2000), 10. Allan Kipkorir Kiprono, KEN, 2:09:38, #frankfurtmarathon

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