WTW: Should Eliud Kipchoge Be Left Off Kenya’s Olympic Team?

Eliud Kipchoge faded to a 10th place showing in Tokyo and now has lost 2 of his last 3 marathons

Each week, I try to make the sport more fun to follow by putting the prior week’s action in perspective for you. Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.

This week’s version of the WTW is a bit shorter than normal as I did a ton of on-site coverage of 2024 World Indoors from Glasgow and I lost a day traveling back and I’ve got to head to Boston for 2024 NCAA Indoors soon.

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Eliud Kipchoge Fades To 10th in 2:06:50 in Tokyo / Should He Be Put On Kenya’s Olympic Team?

18/20 – 90% – Win rate of Eliud Kipchoge during his first 20 marathons including the two sub-2 exhibitions.

1/3 – 33% – Win rate in marathons 21-23 for Eliud Kipchoge, who was only 10th in Tokyo in 2:06:50.

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Kipchoge airborne in Tokyo. Photo via NN Running on X.

When Kipchoge lost in Boston last year, one could excuse it due to the lack of pacemakers, the presence of hills, etc. In Tokyo, none of those excuses apply.

Kelvin Kiptum ended the Kipchoge’s reign as the king of the marathon and after Tokyo it’s clear there will no be return to the throne as a dominant ruler for Kipchoge.

7 years and 5 days passed between marathon loss #1 and #2 for Kipchoge, but Father Time is undefeated. Two years, six months and 13 days passed between losses #2 and #3 and now only 10 months and 15 days have passed between losses #3 and #4.

Could Kipchoge still win a major again? Yes. Could he possibly win an unprecedented third straight Olympic marathon gold? Yes, but he’s certainly not the favorite. A better question is should he even be picked for the Kenyan Olympic marathon team?

Should Kipchoge Be Picked For the Kenyan Olympic Team?

If Athletics Kenya is halfway competent, then 2024 Tokyo winner Benson Kipruto has to be on the team.

In addition to being the fifth-fastest human in history at the 26.2 distance thanks to his 2:02:16 win in Tokyo and improving his career record against Kipchoge to 3-0 in the marathon, Kipruto has proven himself to be a model of consistency. His last 7 marathons dating to 2021 have all gone well.

2:10:16 1st Prague
2:09:51 1st Boston

2:07:27 3rd Boston
2:04:24 1st Chicago

2:06:06 3rd Boston
2:04:02 2nd Chicago

2:02:16 1st Tokyo

So who else should be on the team? Well, there were two other living (RIP Kelvin Kiptum) Kenyans in the top 10 of our 2023 Marathon Rankings not named Eliud Kipchoge (whom we had #5). Evans Chebet was #3 and Alexander Mutiso was #6.

Evans Chebet wins the 2023 Boston Marathon. Courtesy adidas

The 35-year-old Chebet, who trains with the 32-year-old Kipruto, is also amazingly consistent. After his marathon debut in 2013 in Seoul (2:11:26), Chebet has pretty much never run a bad marathon. He’s placed in the top 4 of all 15 marathons he’s finished including six wins and six runner-up finishes (he did drop out of the crazy 2018 Boston and it’s possible he dropped out of a race in 2015 as he only has one marathon finish that year).

In his last 3 marathons, he’s won 2022 Boston, won 2022 NY, and won 2023 Boston. He missed the fall marathon season with injury but if he wins Boston in 2024, he’s also a no-brainer for the team.

Now it’s quite possible he wouldn’t be picked for the team as expecting Kenya to pick the correct team would be like expecting USATF not to overpay Max Siegel. Kenya foolishly seems to be judging things on the World Athletics Road To Paris Marathon Rankings which hurts runners like Chebet as the rankings don’t value Boston or NY very much since most of the ranking is based on your time. In fact, Chebet and Mutiso weren’t even on their 10-person provisional list released in December for that reason (Mutiso hadn’t run Valencia at that time and Chebet only had one marathon in the ranking period and you need two).

The 27-year-old Mutiso also has an amazing track record in the marathon, having run very well in all three of his career marathons. He was 3rd in Valencia in 2:03:29 in his debut in 2022, 1st in 2023 Prague (2:05:09), and 2nd at 2023 Valencia (2:03:11).

If Mutiso wins London, it’s impossible to say he doesn’t deserve to also be on the team ahead of Kipchoge given their recent results.

If both Chebet and Mutiso don’t win Boston and London, then putting Kipchoge on the team ahead of them is far from crazy, and it’s what I’d do just from a lifetime achievement perspective, particularly since Chebet was injured in the fall. And would they be all that disappointed as they could still pick up a huge payday at a fall marathon?

Things that might throw a spanner into the four men for three spots analysis above would be if Geoffrey Kamworor, who was 2nd in London in his lone marathon last year, wins London this year (he and Mutiso are the only Kenyans in the elite men’s field). If that happens, I think he just takes Mutiso’s spot. Given Kamworor’s XC prowess (two World XC golds) and NYC prowess (2 NYC wins), he’s certainly proven he’s good on hills and in unrabbited races.

There are six other Kenyans entered in Boston besides Chebet but even if they won it, I’d only consider maybe Albert Korir (4th in Boston, 2nd NYC last year) and Joshua Belet (2nd Hamburg 2:04:33, DNF Worlds, 1st Amsterdam 2:04:18 last year) as potential replacements for Kipchoge.

So will Kipchoge make the Olympic team? Let’s wait and see what happens in Boston and NY. If Kenyans win both, then it may be very hard to justify him being on there from a performance standpoint. But considering the fact the two men I think are most likely to be deserving of a spot ahead of Kipchoge are foolishly not even on Kenya’s provisional list right now, I think Kipchoge will end up on the team.


One problem is that Kipchoge, who is officially 39, may really be older than that. When the journalists were talking about the Tokyo Marathon results in Glasgow, one of them told me he thought Kipchoge was really three years older than that. It’s far from the first time someone has said that to me.

Some 40+ men have run good marathons. Americans Meb Keflezighi made an Olympic team at 40 and Abdi Abdirahman made one at 43, but neither had to run faster than 2:10 to do so. The masters world record is officially Kenenisa Bekele‘s 2:04:19 that he ran in December in Valencia at age 41. 2:04:19 is amazingly good for a 41-year-old but unlikely to put you in the mix for an Olympic gold. If Kipchoge really is 42, then his 2:02:42 in Berlin in 2023 is even more impressive.

But if I was Athletics Kenya and I knew for a fact that Kipchoge is really 42, I’d be much less likely to put him on the team.

What do you think? Talk about it on the MB: If you were Athletics Kenya, would you put Eliud Kipchoge on the 2024 Olympic Marathon team?

Talent Doesn’t Go Away

One of my favorite phrases about running is “Talent Doesn’t Go Away.” Is there a better example of that than Georgia Bell? (Keira D’Amato fans might say yes).

After running 2:03.38 in 2014 at age 20, she packed her bags and went to college at Cal where she quite honestly wasn’t all that good. She never broke 2:08 at Cal or even made it to the finals of Pac-12s. So she returned home, put away her spikes and got a job in cybersecurity. During COVID, she started exercising more — doing Parkruns and cycling — and got the running bug again. Despite going nearly five years without running a track race, Bell has now run 4:03 for 1,500 (college PR of 4:18.89) and just placed 4th in the world.

If you want more of Bell’s story, watch our interview from Worlds with her below or read this Sean Ingle feature on Bell that came out before Worlds.

Every Ethiopian Woman Immediately Needs To Move Up In Distance

In Glasgow, the wild stories from the Ethiopian women continued. The winner of the women’s 800 was Tsige Duguma. At this time last year, the 23-year-old had never run an 800 in her life. In Glasgow, she was a dominant winner.

The 23-year-old Duguma started her career as a 100/200 runner (12.8/24.71 in 2017) but quickly moved up to the 400 (54.43 PR in 2022, 53.9h) before dipping her toes in the 800 last year. According to the Tilastopaja.eu and World Athletics databases, she is undefeated for 800 for her life.

Tsige Duguma. Kevin Morris photo.

Duguma’s 800m Career

2:02.2hA 1 NC Addis Ababa 17 May
1:59.40 1 Heusden 15 Jul
2:01.45 1 Gent 3 Feb
1:59.66 1 Beograd 13 Feb
2:00.50 1h4 WC Glasgow 1 Mar
1:58.35 1s1 WC Glasgow 2 Mar
2:01.90 1 WC Glasgow 3 Mar

Admittedly, moving up from the 400 to 800 is far from uncommon. But who is to say that Duguma won’t one day be a marathon star?

Let me remind you of these stories:

  • Marathon world record holder Tigst Assefa of Ethiopia also started her career as a 400 runner (semis of 2012 African Champs – 54.05 PR), ran the 800 at the 2016 Olympics, and now has run 2:15:37 and 2:11:53 in her last two marathons.
  • Tigist Ketema started her career as an 800 runner (2:02.28 PR), won world junior bronze in that event in 2016, and recently ran 2:16:07 in her marathon debut in Dubai.

If you missed our extensive coverage of the Glasgow World Indoor Championships, you can catch up here. Hopefully, you are an SC member as we also did three SC podcasts from Glasgow.

Last Week’s Home Pages

Past editions of our Week That Was weekly recap can be found here. You should come to LetsRun each and every day for the latest news but if you miss a day, you can always go to our archive page. If you like our written weekly recap, you’ll love our weekly Track Talk Podcast as well. Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us, or post in our forum.


Got a tip, question or comment? Please call us at 844-LETSRUN (538-7786), email us or post in our forum.

More: Last week’s WTW: Canada Has a 400m Threat (But His WR Won’t Count), Arkansas Has A New Distance Star, A 97-Pound Japanese Man Runs 2:06 & More Meet the two NCAA superstars most of you had never heard of before Christopher Morales-Williams and Peter Haru.

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