April 17, 2017
BOSTON – Geoffrey Kirui’s present status in the marathon world is pretty high as he pulled away from Galen Rupp to win the 2017 Boston Marathon.
But Kirui’s future in the marathon maybe even brighter, as his coach Renato Canova said Kirui does not currently do the training of a serious marathoner.
Canova noted Kirui is very talented, but that he does “maybe maximum 70% (of) the preparation of a real marathon runner.” Before the race, Canova said Kirui was “big talent, small training.”
Kirui, now 24, is definitely a big talent as he ran 26:55.73 for 10,000m at age 18 in 2011. He got 3rd at World Juniors in the 10,000m in 2012, but then struggled to make a name for himself on the track. He had more success when he moved to the marathon last year, running 2:07:23 (3rd Rotterdam) and 2:06:27 (7th Amsterdam). (He dropped out of the Chicago Marathon in 2014).
Canova said Kirui ran that 2:06 in Amsterdam last year running 70-80 miles per week in singles. They added a little more to his plate for this buildup, but Kirui’s location in Keringet, Kenya limits the kind of workouts he can run. Keringet is situated at around 8,900 feet of altitude, and most of the terrain there is very hilly. While it’s good for building strength, it’s not ideal for marathon training as there is nowhere to do a fast long run.
Kirui did come down to Iten, Kenya for three marathon-specific workouts. One of them was a 40-kilometer hard effort with two-time World Champ and Chicago champ Abel Kirui. Geoffrey ran 2:07:30 for the workout, which was one of the four fastest times anyone has run on that course (2:14:29 marathon pace at altitude), but he was dropped by Abel with two kilometers to go and Geoffrey ultimately finished 24 seconds behind. While most coaches would be overjoyed with the time, the finish to that workout demonstrated to Canova that Geoffrey could still have issues at the end of the marathon.
Indeed, Canova noted that Kirui did begin to struggle at the very end of the marathon, but by that point it was academic as he had gained an insurmountable lead.
Ideally, Canova would like Kirui to relocate to Iten, where the training environment is better and he can keep a closer eye on his pupil, but it may be difficult to persuade Kirui, who enjoys life in Keringet.
One more thing Kirui still has to learn about the marathon: the names of his competitors. During the post-race press conference, Kirui mentioned “this guy” next to me (meaning Rupp), and then asked, “Whose name is who?”
Rupp looked bemused as someone from the crowd finally replied, “Galen.”
Canova wasn’t the only one a little surprised by Kirui’s victory given his less than ideal training. Kirui wasn’t even listed on the Boston Marathon media guide’s list of Top 10 contenders.
Kirui was more than onto something when after the race he said on the TV broadcast, “I tried many times on the track, but I see my future is the marathon.”
Renato Canova talks about Kirui below.
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