Kirui has struggled with injuries, but is hoping to return to the top and represent Kenya at Worlds next year by running sub-2:05 in Chicago.
Kirui is still dreaming of not only making the Kenyan Olympic squad, but winning marathon gold to add to his 2012 silver. He'll start 2016 with the Tokyo Marathon in February.
They lead a slew of other 2:04-2:06 men. Olympic champion Tiki Gelana heads the women's race against Flomena Cheyech (2:22:44) and Commonwealth Games 10,000 champ Joyce Chepkirui.
33-year-old Kirui has struggled in recent years with a stress fracture in 2013 and DNF at Boston 2015, but thinks he's in shape to challenge his 2:05:04 PR from 2009.
Kirui: “It (the injury in 2013) taught me that I have to listen to my body. At that time, I was a crazy runner!"
Three time defending champ Wilson Chebet was a DNF after 30k, two-time world champ Abel Kirui was 5th in 2:09. The women's race went out in 1:12:40 but came home slower. Burundi's Diane Nukuri Johnson got a new national record of 2:29:35 for third.
There are eight men with sub-2:07 PRs including Ethiopia's Ayele Abshero (2:04:23), Dino Sefir (2:04:50) and Endeshaw Negesse (2:04:52). Ethiopia’s Meseret Hailu (2:21:09) will try to defend her women's title against Betehem Moges (2:26:42) and Burundi's Diane Nukuri-Johnson (2:29:54).
He'll have his hands full with two-time defending champ and ‘Mr Amsterdam’ Wilson Chebet who has set the CR two straight years.
Both runners have 2:05 PRs, but say they want to run 2:04 here.
Kirui is happy with his comeback from the injury that kept him out of Moscow 2013 and talks about his racing plans for the summer and fall.
The Tokyo Marathon has a great field that includes 2-time World champ Abel Kirui, Tadesse Tola (2:04:49), Chicago champ Dennis Kimetto, 2011 World Junior XC champ Geoffrey Kipsang and more.
Kirui missed most of 2013 with a stress fracture, but says his form is coming back around. Talking about Kenya's poor performance at Worlds (their first runner was 9th) he actually said they should have spent more time in the AK training camps, advocating for 4 months there. We might disagree with the Kenyan training camps, but agree with his statement that AK needs to make it's team selection more in advance.
“They made small calculation errors. Preparations by our coaches and Athletics Kenya when we go for major championships should be four months in camp, there’s no shortcut in the marathon, not one month, two months or three months."
Kirui said he's recovered from the stress fracture that kept him out of last year's London Marathon and was disappointed not to be chosen for the 2014 London elite field.
2:04 man Tadesse Tola and two-time World champion Abel Kirui lead a men's field that has 5 others who have gone 2:06 or better including 2011 World Junior XC champ Geoffrey Kipsang. 2012 Olympian Arata Fujiwara leads the Japanese charge. The women's favorite is 2:19 runner Lucy Kabuu who will face Tirfi Tsegaye (2:21:19).