Kenyans Continue To Show Impressive Depth

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Dec. 23, 2011
  • Updated Dec. 23, 2011 at 8:14 AM UTC
Kenya's Patrick Makau on his way to setting the marathon world record at the 2011 BMW Berlin Marathon (photo courtesy of the BMW Berlin Marathon)

They seem to have surpassed their rival Ethiopia on the roads.

Kenya's Patrick Makau on his way to setting the marathon world record at the 2011 BMW Berlin Marathon (photo courtesy of the BMW Berlin Marathon)

Written by: David Monti.

(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

The depth of performances by Kenyan men at the marathon distance in 2011 was simply staggering, according to an analysis by statistician Ken Young of the Association of Road Racing Statisticians.

A compilation of marathon results through mid-December, showed that Kenyan men ran 2:20:00 or faster 719 times this year.  That total was achieved by 474 different athletes, who amassed 135 victories and 319 podium finishes. Moreover, Kenyan men were victorious at all six World Marathon Majors events held this year (Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea), and recorded victories at other important marathons in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Chunchon, Dubai, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Fukuoka, Otsu, Paris, Prague, Rotterdam, Valencia, and Xiamen amongst others.

At the top of the list, Kenyan men broke 2:06:00 15 times (11 performers), 2:07:00 31 times (24 performers), and 2:08:00 47 times (37 performers).  By contrast, men from Ethiopia, Kenya’s traditional distance running rivals, broke 2:06 just once, 2:07:00 3 times, and 2:08:00 9 times.  Within the top-50 times in the world this year (2:07:28), men from Kenya achieved all of them but nine.  Only one North American (Ryan Hall, 2:04:58), and one South American (Marilson Gomes Dos Santos, 2:06:34) made the top-50 performances.  The fastest European of 2011, Ukraine’s Oleksandr Sitkovskyy, clocked 2:09:26, a time surpassed by 70 Kenyans.

While athletes like Patrick Makau, who set the world record of 2:03:38 at Berlin, and Geoffrey Mutai, who won both Boston and New York, got most of the attention, lesser-known Luka Kipkemboi Chelimo also achieved a noteworthy feat.  Chelimo, 34, broke 2:20 more than any other Kenyan this year, achieving the feat seven times.  He also won four marathons: Donying, China (2:13:37); Montreal, Canada (2:13:45); Chongquing, China (2:16:27); and Perth, Australia (2:17:03).

FILED UNDER: Boston Marathon / News TAGS: / / / / /

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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