You have to admire Abel Kirui. Abel Kirui surprised many with his win in Chicago last year. Why? This marathoner is one of the most positive people you will ever meet. Kirui, in truth, is probably the least known 2:05 marathoner in the world.
It befuddles this writer.
Abel Kirui won the gold medal in the 2009 World Champs in Berlin. Two years later, in Daegu, Abel Kirui was back, and won the gold once again in South Korea.
In 2012, in old London town, Abel Kirui finished silver to Stephen Kiprotich (Uganda)’s gold medal in the Olympic marathon.
In 2016, Abel Kirui showed up again winning Bank of America Chicago Marathon. This was after no marathons in 2013, but a 2:09:04 in Tokyo in Feb 2014, 2:10:56 in 2015 in Amsterdan in Oct 2015, and a 2:08:06 in Tokyo in February 2016. His win in Chicago in October 2016 put him on the map once again.
What will he do on the streets of Chicago?
Read Sabrina Yohannes feature below and you will see that Mr. Kirui is ready to roll!
Abel Kirui’s Goal For The Chicago Marathon: “Win Again”
By Sabrina Yohannes
In stating his goals for the October 8 2017 Bank of America Chicago marathon, the defending champion Abel Kirui of Kenya kept it simple.
“Win again,” he told RunBlogRun on Thursday from Kenya. “I did my final long run today. Everything is good and I think all will be well.”
Kirui defeated the 2015 winner Dickson Chumba when he won the 2016 race in 2:11:23 last October.
The two-time former world marathon champion Kirui added, “Training has been going very well. We’ve been training in the same program with Eliud Kipchoge before he went to Berlin.”
The Olympic champion Kipchoge, who won Berlin in 2:03:32 on Sunday, trains with Kenya’s former steeplechase Olympic medalist Patrick Sang. Kirui has long worked with Italian coach Renato Canova, with whom he was training in Eldoret before last year’s Chicago race. Both Kipchoge and Kirui are managed by Netherlands-based Global Sports Communications.
“I’m in Kaptagat nowadays, so all the time, I work with Patrick Sang and even this morning, I worked with Patrick Sang,” Kirui explained. “I went like three months ago to Kaptagat. I wanted actually to see these guys; they are running the best times, so I wanted also to catch up to the times. Because I’m like a 2:05 guy; if I join their group, I will improve a lot.”
Kirui, whose marathon personal best of 2:05:04 was clocked in Rotterdam in 2009, said he has seen some improvements in his speed.
He also said he maintains contact with Canova. “We talk with Renato, and he was asking me about training, and I told him and it is OK; he was very confident of where I am now,” said Kirui, adding, “I’ll stay here for some time and then we’ll see. Because we always interact with Renato and also with Patrick. It is like the same communication, so there’s no big worry.”
“The long run today was with Patrick Sang and … many athletes from different managers,” said Kirui. “It was a big group, almost 40 athletes.”
He listed two-time former Amsterdam champion Bernard Kipyego and Ezekiel Chebii (both of whom were entered in Chicago); former London champion Emmanuel Mutai, Laban Korir, Abdi Nageeye (of the Netherlands), and world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor as having been on the run, some in a second group running a shorter distance than the full 40K others ran.
Kirui raced in the London marathon last spring, where he just missed the podium, finishing in 2:07:45 behind Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru who won in 2:05:48, former Olympic track champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia (2:05:57), and Bedan Karoki (2:07:41).
“London was OK,” Kirui said. “I was fourth. I have never won London. I still have the dream of winning. Maybe next year will be my London. If I run very well in Chicago, next year, definitely, I would love to win London.”
Media reports in August had quoted Kirui referring to a tendon injury he had experienced some two months earlier. “I was having a tendon injury, but all went well … and the injury disappeared by itself,” he said Thursday.
In Chicago, Kirui will face the Olympic medalists who finished behind Kipchoge in Rio last year, Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa (who owns a 2:04:52 PB set in Chicago in 2012) and the USA’s Galen Rupp (2:09:58 PB run in Boston this year), as well as the 2013 Chicago champion Dennis Kimetto of Kenya, who set the current 2:02:57 world record in Berlin in 2014.
The field also includes Kenya’s 2015 New York champion Stanley Biwott (2:03:51 PB in London last year) and Eritrea’s world half marathon record holder Zersenay Tadese, who took part in Nike’s Breaking2 attempt to run the marathon distance in two hours albeit under non-record-eligible conditions, with Kipchoge clocking 2:00:25 and Tadese running 2:06:51.
“I think it’s a very strong field, but anyway, I’m not scared, because the field is strong, but depending on the preparations of each athlete,” said Kirui. “For me, I have the feeling I will be OK.”
“I don’t want to exaggerate many things, but I believe I will go to the podium,” he continued, then laughed, and added, “and my aim is to win.”
Kirui enjoyed the win on September 24 of Kipchoge, who faced former world record-holder and fellow Kenyan Wilson Kipsang and Bekele in Berlin, and was unexpectedly challenged by Ethiopian marathon debutant Guye Adola.
“It was so exciting,” Kirui said. “Eliud was experienced enough to win the race. We all celebrated like a global family. We were happy, celebrating an athlete from Global, from our managers, so it was a beautiful day.”
Kirui also had a day this week that marked a happy family event. “Yesterday was the one-month-old day of my boy, who is the youngest now, and that is another blessing,” said Kirui, who in August welcomed his baby son Axel Kipkoech.
Come October 8, Kirui will be hoping to experience yet another beautiful day with a beautiful outcome for himself and his well-wishers on the streets of Chicago.