Sunday's finish of the METRO Group Marathon Düsseldorf will be right next to the river Rhine. It is there, where Wilfred Kigen intends to continue a remarkable streak of successes in Germany. So far the 34 year-old has won the Frankfurt Marathon three times, achieving a hattrick there (2004 to 2007). Additionally he had twice placed second in Hamburg, where he clocked his personal best of 2:07:33 in 2007. "In Düsseldorf I want to run a low 2:09 and break the course record of 2:09:47," said Wilfred Kigen and added: "For me it is important to show that I am back in form since I had to drop out of the New York Marathon last autumn because of an Achilles tendon injury."
After 24 k Wilfred Kigen had to stop in November 2008 in New York. "I was still in the leading group at that stage, but I could not carry on." He then could not run for one month and resumed training in December. Since then Wilfred Kigen, who is managed by Dutch Gerard van de Veen, prepared for the METRO Group Marathon Düsseldorf.
Originally Wilfred Kigen comes from Eldoret, the centre of Kenyan distance running. As a pupil he ran to school, covering 20 kilometres per day for eight years. That 'training' was probably the basis for his future career. "Without running to school I might never have become a runner," said Wilfred Kigen, who only started doing competitions in his final year at school. "I was not bad, but I did not win every race." It was another Kenyan world-class runner, who had a decisive influence on Wilfred Kigen's career: Wilson Boit Kipketer is a good friend of him. He had won the World Championships' gold medal at the steeplechase in 1997 and then broke the world record shortly after that with 7:59.08 minutes.
Wilfred Kigen has three brothers and three sisters. With the money earned by running he also supports his siblings and his mother. His father had been a farmer, but he died in a car accident in 1995. When Wilfred became a world-class marathon runner the family benefited a lot. Today he has five children himself. His wife works as a teacher and even speaks some German. "When my manager Gerard calls they speak German," says Wilfred Kigen, who now lives in Ngog not far from Nairobi. "I can train very well there, though it is just in an altitude of 1,800 metres, which is not as high as Eldoret or Iten." In Ngog he regularly meets former world record holder Paul Tergat, who lives there as well. But they train in different groups.
More information is available online at: www.metrogroup-marathon.de.
Wilfred Kigen with his bib number in Düsseldorf. Photo credit: Victah Sailer / photorun.net