((13-Apr) -- Probably Kenya's most versatile male distance runner, five-time world champion Geoffrey Kamworor sees Monday's Boston Marathon as playing to his strengths. The 29 year-old --who is part of the Nike-sponsored NN Running Team and trains regularly with marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge-- will run Boston for the first time. He hopes that his two victories and four podium finishes at the TCS New York City Marathon, another hilly race which does not use pacemakers, foreshadow Boston success.
PHOTO: Geoffrey Kamworor after winning the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
"It is a dream for me to participate in Boston because the (hilly) course is like where we train in Kaptagat," Kamworor said through a statement. "In fact, part of a 40-kilometer training route we use we call 'Boston' because towards the end of the run it is hilly."
For a runner who has distinguished himself as a master of rough terrain, winning the World Athletics Cross Country Championships twice in 2015 and 2017, it's ironic that he began his marathon career on one of the flattest courses in the world, Berlin. In September, 2012, he ran the BMW Berlin under the name "Geoffrey Kipsang" using his middle name instead of his family name (he did not start using Kamworor for his race entries until 2014). He was just 19, but finished third in 2:06:12. He was able to run with the leaders through halfway in an aggressive 62:12, but lost exactly two minutes in the second half.
He would run Rotterdam (2:09:12) and Berlin again (2:06:26) in 2013, then Tokyo (2:07:37) and Berlin yet again (2:06:39) in 2014. It wasn't until 2015 that his manager, Valentijn Trouw, convinced him to run one marathon a year, instead of two, and focus on either the World Athletics Cross Country Championships or World Athletics Half-Marathon Championships in the spring. That formula proved to be a winner for Kamworor, and in four tries from 2015 through 2019 he placed second (2015), first (2017), third (2018) and first again (2019) at the TCS New York City Marathon. In addition to winning World Cross twice, he won the World Athletics Half-Marathon Championships three times in 2014, 2016, and 2018.
"It will be nice to experience the oldest marathon in the world," Kamworor said about Boston which was first run in 1897. "I'm really happy to run another marathon in America having accomplished so much in New York. This encourages me that I can run well in Northern America and it will be interesting to see what happens there. I'm going for a great result."
Two of Kamworor's training partners, Geoffrey Kirui and Philemon Rono, are Boston veterans and have given him advice about the course. Kirui won the race in 2017, finished second in the monsoon of 2018, fifth in 2019, then 13th in 2021 when the race was held in October. Kirui is racing again this year, but Rono --who dropped out in 2018 and was sixth in 2019-- is not.
"They told me it is a nice marathon but that sometimes it can be very tactical because there are no pacemakers," Kamworor said. "At the same time they said the course can be challenging because sometimes it is uphill and sometimes downhill. It is an interesting course, but I'm eager."
Kamworor, who is the father to five children including triplets, is coming out of a rough patch in his career. In 2020 he was struck by a motorbike in Kenya and suffered a fractured tibia. Last year he won the Kenyan Olympic Trials 10,000m in 27:01.06 --a spectacular time for a high altitude race-- but had to scratch from the Tokyo Olympics with a fractured metatarsal. Last fall, he trained through an ankle injury ahead of the Valencia Marathon in December, but still managed to finish fourth in 2:05:23 on what he said was "fifty percent preparation."
"At the moment I'm feeling great and I've trained really well," Kamworor said. "I haven't missed one session of training which is crucial for the marathon. I had a small groin injury but it never stopped me from training. It has been a controlled preparation."
Kamworor is just one of eight Kenyan men who have been recruited for Boston by the race's elite athlete coordinator Mary Kate Shea. To win, he'll have to overcome challenges from defending champion Benson Kipruto, 2019 winner Lawrence Cherono, and 2021 New York City Marathon champion Albert Korir. Of course, there is a formidable Ethiopian squad at Boston led by two-time winner Lelisa Desisa and reigning London Marathon champion Sisay Lemma. Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, scratched from the race, and Kamworor said he was sad not to be able to race him.
"I was disappointed Kenenisa Bekele pulled out because I was looking forward to running against one of the greatest ever," Kamworor said.