Most steeplechasers have found it hard to transition successfully to road running
From Kiptanui, Kipketer, Shaheen to Kemboi; the water and barriers superstars did not perform well in marathon.
Things don’t just happen. They are made to happen. And that’s what Brimin Kipruto, the second fastest 3,000m steeplechase athlete in history, longs to achieve.
Brimin, who boasts a jaw-dropping 7:53.64 best mark in the water and barriers race, has vowed to break the jinx –that world’s 3,000m steeplechase greats cannot stretch their dominance beyond the track.
Kipruto, who started running while in Standard Seven at Korkitony Primary School in Kerio Valley, said: “After many years competing on the track, I opted to step up to marathon last year. I competed in Linz Marathon in Austria in April, but I picked an injury at 25km that slowed me down and I clocked 2:19.
“That’s the only marathon. Due to Covid-19 pandemic, I have not trained. I will get to the gym next week in preparation for next year’s races. You know it’s challenging to train hard without races. We hope things will get better soon,” said Brimin, the 2007 world champion.
Most major races traditionally held in April, he said, have been pushed to October next year –like Paris Marathon that organisers have rescheduled to October 17, 2021.
“At least 75 per cent of spring marathons (March to June) have been pushed to October. So, I expect to race in October,” he said.
Sadly, the world’s top steeplechasers have not performed well after graduating to marathon, but Brimin hopes to change that.
“Success in athletics often depends on focus and devotion to training. So, there is nothing like steeplechasers cannot excel in marathon.
“For my case, I intend to train hard and perform well in marathon. That’s why I tried with one race. I expect some good performance from next year,” said Kipruto, a strong supporter of English Premier League side Liverpool.
Like many other Kenyan runners, Brimin struggled against an impoverished childhood. He completed Standard Eight at the nearby Korkitony Primary School, but could not join Form One for lack of school fees.
“I practiced farming and herded the family’s cattle as I waited for the next intake,” he said.
Kemboi, former world record holders Moses Kiptanui, (7:59.18) Wilson Boit Kipketer (7:59.08), Bernard Barmasai (7:55.72) and Paul Kipsiele Koech (7:54.31), the third fastest marathoner in history, are among a host of top steeplechasers who either did not perform well or did not graduate to marathon.
Brimin is also among a handful of top Kenyan athletes who turned down offers to be enlisted into the disciplined forces.
“I did not decline to join National Police Service. I was given the offer but I felt that I should live as a civilian. I explained to the police authorities my desires. I was supposed to be recruited with Ezekiel Kemboi (four-time world champion) in 2007.
“I did not have the calling into the service. Eliud Kipchoge and I agreed with them. We appreciated the offer,” he said.
At the Diamond League meeting in Monaco, France, in 2011, Brimin ran a blistering 7.53.64 to narrowly miss the 7:53.63 world record held by Saif Saaeed Shaheen (formerly Stephen Cherono of Kenya).
Shaheen, who was born in Sergoit Village in Keiyo but switched his allegiance to Qatar in 2003, posted the all-time mark at the 2004 Golden League meet in Brussels.
Brimin’s mark stands out as the African record and the second best run of all time.