Here are nine things you may not have known about the fastest marathoner in history.
Kenyan Dennis Kimetto shattered the marathon world record on Sunday at the Berlin Marathon, running 2 hours, 2 minutes and 57 seconds, becoming the first man in history to break the 2:03 barrier and all but locking up the World Marathon Majors title for 2013-2014 (unless his training partner, and former marathon world-record holder Wilson Kipsang, wins the New York City Marathon on Nov. 2). In Berlin, Kimetto took an astounding 26 seconds off Kipsang’s year-old mark, set at the same race a year ago.
Here are nine things you might not have known about the fastest marathoner in history:
1. He keeps fast company.
Kimetto trains just outside of Eldoret, Kenya in Kapng’etuny. He is part of a large training group that includes two of the fastest marathoners in history—Geoffrey Mutai, who ran 2:03:02 to win the 2011 Boston Marathon, and Kipsang, who held the world record until Kimetto broke it on Sunday. The average of their three personal best times is a mind-blowing 2:03:07.
2. Prior to becoming the world’s fastest marathoner, he was a farmer.
Before joining Mutai’s training group in 2008 and turning his attention to training and racing full-time, Kimetto worked as a farmer, growing maize and watching after cows. According to Chicago Tribune writer Philip Hersh, Kimetto had been running about four miles a day until a chance encounter with Mutai put him on the path to becoming a world-class marathoner.
3. Berlin has been good to him.
At Berlin in 2012, Kimetto finished second to training partner Geoffrey Mutai in 2:04:16. That mark is the fastest debut marathon in history on a record-eligible course. Kimetto’s average finishing time at the Berlin Marathon is a staggering 2:03:36.5. But the annual marathon held every fall isn’t the only time he’s run fast in the German capital. In 2011, Kimetto ran 1:11:18 in May 2012 at the BIG 25K in Berlin, breaking Sammy Kosgei’s world record by 32 seconds. A month prior to his 25K world-record run, Kimetto won the Berlin Half Marathon in 59:14—a mark that still stands as his personal best at that distance.
4. He’s a Major force to be reckoned with.
Including his marathon debut at Berlin in 2012, Kimetto has started five marathons—all of them part of the World Marathon Majors Series—and finished four of them, dropping out of Boston this past spring due to a hamstring injury. He’s got three victories (Tokyo 2013, Chicago 2013, Berlin 2014), a runner-up placing (Berlin 2012) and an average finishing time of 2:04:27. Kimetto now owns the first (2:02:57, Berlin 2014), fifth (2:03:45, Chicago 2013) and 11th (2:04:15, Berlin 2012) fastest marathon times in history on a record-legal course. (Note: Geoffrey Mutai (2:03:02) and Moses Mosop’s (2:03:06) Boston marks are not record eligible due to the point-to-point, downhill nature of Boston’s course.)
5. His hourly rate in Berlin was quite nice.
According to letsrun.com, Kimetto took home roughly $120,000 euros, or $154,000 USD, on Sunday: $40,000 for winning, $30,000 for running under 2:04 and an additional $50,000 for breaking the world record. That’s a race-day hourly rate of $75,121.95 USD, and doesn’t include an undisclosed appearance fee or sponsor bonuses for running the fastest marathon in history. Should Kimetto hold on to win the 2013-2014 World Marathon Majors Title, he’ll earn another $500,000.
6. He looks out for others.
Kimetto, who has earned many hundreds of thousands of dollars in appearance fees, winnings and bonuses in the past two years, has given back to his community in Kenya by building churches and schools, while also helping fund opportunities for younger athletes. “I also help young athletes who are at the start of their running career, because they are now like I also used to be in the past and I know how important it is to be helped at the start,” Kimetto was quoted as saying in the Boston Marathon media guide. “In the future they are the world record holders and champions, so I find it important to help them.”
7. There are fast shoes on his feet.
Like some of world’s fastest marathoners before him, Kimetto was wearing the latest version of the adidas Adios Boost on his feet when he broke the tape in Berlin on Sunday. Runner-up Emanuel Mutai—who ran 2:03:13 to come in under Kipsang’s previous world record of 2:03:23, making him the second-fastest marathoner in history on a record-eligible course—was also rocking the Adios Boost 2 across the finish line. Kipsang was wearing the Adios in his world-record run last fall, while countryman Patrick Makau also wore the Adios when he ran 2:03:38 to break the marathon world record in 2011. In fact, the five fastest marathoners in history on a record-eligible course—Kimetto, Emmanuel Mutai, Kipsang, Makau and Gebreselassie—are all adidas-sponsored athletes and each wore a version of the Adios (the first two models of the shoe did not feature adidas’ new Boost foam). Geoffrey Mutai, who ran 2:03:02 in winning Boston in 2011, also races in the Adios.
8. His 10K PR is slow (by world-class marathoner’s standards)
Kimetto’s last 10K of the Berlin Marathon was clocked in 28:51. His 10K split from 25-35K was 28:39. His standalone 10K PR? A scant 28:30, set in Nairobi in 2011 according to iaaf.org. Since he started competing seriously in 2011, Kimetto hasn’t run many 10K races, hence the reason for his “slow” personal best, but given that most of the other runners who have run 2:04 or faster for the marathon have run 27 minutes or faster for 10K on the track or roads, it’s likely that Kimetto could too. Heck, his half-marathon PR of 59:14 lends to back-to-back 27:56s—plus another kilometer at that pace!
9. His wife passed out when he broke the world record.
According to the Daily Nation, Kimetto’s wife, Caroline Chepkorir passed out amongst a large gathering of friends in Eldoret after watching her husband break the world record on Sunday. “I am so happy, I don’t even have words to describe it,” Chepkorir told allAfrica.com after she recovered. “I can’t even comprehend it.”