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Marathon world record holder Kiptum sidesteps talk of two-hour mark

Kenya's Kelvin Kiptum celebrates winning the 2023 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in Chicago, Illinois, in a world record time of two hours and 35 seconds on October 8, 2023. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)

Kenya’s freshly-minted marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum says he has “no plan” to try and run under the mythic two-hour mark.

Kiptum was speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday, back home 48 hours after slicing 34 seconds off the previous best time set by his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge.

Only 23 and competing in just his third marathon Kiptum lit up the streets of Chicago on Sunday to clock two hours and 35 seconds.

“I’ve got no plan to run under two hours but only to improve my own record,” said Kiptum who had won on his debut over the 26.2 mile (42.195km) distance last December in Valencia, doubling up in London in April.

Kiptum was tearing up the marathon record books one month after Kipchoge celebrated his fifth win in the Berlin Marathon where he had established the old record of 2:01:09 in 2022.

Kipchoge, at 38 15 years Kiptum’s senior, has broken the two-hour barrier when he clocked 1:59:40 but that was achieved with the aid of pacemakers in a project backed by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos in Vienna in 2019 and consequently not recognised by World Athletics.

The two Kenyans could cross swords at the Paris Olympics next year with Kipchoge possibly gunning for his third gold after Rio in 2016 and the covid-delayed 2020 Games in Tokyo.

“Every athlete is happy to represent their country and I am looking forward to run in the marathon in Paris,” said Kiptum.

He added: “I have not received a personal message from Eliud Kipchoge. But if I am selected to compete in the Paris Olympics, I am ready to race with him.

“My next target is to take a break, meet my management team and come back strong for the 2024 season”.

Kiptum’s breakthrough comes at a time when athletics superpower Kenya is investing heavily in testing to combat a surge in doping cases with a total of 67 Kenyans banned in the last five years for doping.

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