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Kenya’s Titus Ekiru says he can beat Kipchoge’s 1:59:40 marathon record

After running 2:02:57 at last month's Milano Marathon, Ekiru believes he can run the first in-competition sub-two-hour marathon

Photo by: Twitter/KalaleSteve

After winning the Milano Marathon last month in 2:02:57, Kenyan marathoner Titus Ekiru has his eyes on a sub-two-hour record attempt later this year. In a report from Kenyan newspaper The Star, Ekiru said his training has been going extremely well, and he’s confident that he could become the first man to break two hours in the marathon in a record-eligible event. In 2019, Ekiru’s fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to break the two-hour barrier when he ran 1:59:40 at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, but his result was not ratified as an official world record. 

Coming into 2021, Ekiru owned a marathon PB of 2:04:46 — a quick time, but not fast enough to rank him in the top 10 all-time among Kenyans, let alone in the world. Then came the Milano Marathon, where he smashed his PB and became the sixth man to break 2:03 in the marathon. His 2:02:57 result places him in a tie for fifth-fastest ever with compatriot Dennis Kimetto

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After his race in Italy, Ekiru spoke to World Athletics about his breakthrough performance, and he said he thought he could lower his PB to 2:01. Just a month later, that lofty goal (only two men, Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele, have run sub-2:02 marathons) became even bolder, as The Star reported that Ekiru said he believes a 1:59 marathon is within his reach. 

“I believe that running under two hours is possible with the way my training has worked out so far,” he said. “We are discussing with the management to explore the possibility of running at the Chicago and London marathons, among other races in the future.” In the same interview, Ekiru expressed his disappointment in not being selected to the Kenyan Olympic marathon team, which he said he thought was a possibility. Of course, the team was chosen in February, long before he joined the 2:02 club.  

“Now that the team has been named, there’s nothing much to do but to focus on the future,” Ekiru said. It took Kipchoge two attempts to break two hours, and both events were specifically designed to get him across the finish line as quickly as possible. He raced on perfect courses, he followed rotating groups of pacers and he even had the luxury of waiting for the day with the best conditions to run.

Ekiru will have none of those benefits in his attempt to break two hours, and even running close to Kipchoge’s official world record of 2:01:39 would be a monumental feat. Hopefully we’ll get the chance to see him in action later this year in London and Chicago.

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