By Jonathan Komen
At exactly 5:45am this Sunday, the stars will have gathered in Kapsabet ready to clash in the most spectacular fashion imaginable.
And minutes later, the tall lean runners will begin a brilliant battle at the sixth Kass Marathon at the starting point near Kapsabet town.
Geoffrey Mutai, the fastest marathoner on the planet with unofficial 2:03.02 personal best, began his 42-kilometre wins during its inaugural race in 2007.
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After rocking the athletics world, Mutai went ahead to groom the best road running talent near his home.
And on Sunday, he will be out extending his olive hand to upcoming marathon runners in his rural home.
“This is my way of giving back to the community. And I am happy that, just within a short period of time, it has borne some fruits,” Mutai said last Sunday in Eldoret.
He went on: “After seven years of training and competing in half marathons that include Mt Kilimanjaro 21km, Kass Marathon finally emerged as a window of opportunity. I competed struggling to finish in top ten but was surprised to return in second position. I met my manger Gerard Van de Veen at the finish line”
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This was barely after he received Sh42.5 million World Marathon Majors crown in New York.
“When I compete in the major marathons like Boston, New York and Berlin, I always think of Kass Marathon. That’s why I refer to it as my ‘marathon parent’. I borrowed money to register in Kass Marathon.”
He was the first person to win both the Boston and New York marathons in a year.
“Winners at Kass Marathon are best bet to enter Boston and New York marathons. I assure you they will not fall below top three positions just because of the altitude and the energy sapping course which requires much focus,” said Mutai.
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Mutai, who basks in course record marks ING New York City (2:05.55) and Boston marathons, was born of peasant family and endeared numerous challenges to ascend to the top of marathon running.
The 30-year-old Mutai has endured sugarless tea and porridge while a young boy in his impoverished family.
After the hectic morning training sessions, Mutai could get back to tiresome farm duties daily on his neighbour’s farms to earn a living and buy training kit.
And that must have touched off his knack to uplift his home’s lifestyle – burning with a desire to ensure athletics becomes a cash crop for his agriculturally-rich Mumberes village in Koibatek District.
And Mutai’s hand stood clear at last year’s Kass Marathon run where, where two athletes –Dennis Kipruto and Frankline Chepkwony –who are under his watch ruled the roost.
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The 18-year-old Kipruto proved his mettle, finishing second in 12-kilometre while Chepkwony settled for third place.
While the duo posted brilliant showing at home, Japhet Kipchumba, another Mutai’s understudy, swept victory at the Eindhoven Marathon in the Netherlands – shattering the 2:07.50 course record Mutai posted in 2008 and set a new one of 2:05.38.
Both the Kass and Dutch exploits motivated Mutai and had to extra work to ensure he stays ahead of the curve.
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