Wilson Kipsang turned 31 years old on Friday, and the occasion was marked in suitable, if miniature, fashion. As Kipsang walked into Friday’s press conference for the NYC Half, he was presented with a small cupcake and serenaded with a round of the birthday song. Surprised, he smiled broadly and blew out the single candle.
It turns out, however, that Kipsang has much bigger plans for a birthday celebration: Despite being in the midst of heavy training to defend his Virgin London Marathon title, he said he is aiming to run under 60 minutes. Should he do so, he could threaten the course record of 59:25, set by Haile Gebrselassie in 2007. Only four men have run under an hour since the race began in 2006.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the marathon, Kipsang ran 2:03:42 in the 2011 Frankfurt Marathon, just four seconds shy of the world record. He brings a half-marathon personal best of 58:59, the fastest in the field by more than a minute. But, he said, don’t hand him the $20,000 winner’s check just yet.
Kipsang called the field “strong because there are some guys who have a lot of experience in road racing, and we have new guys that are competing. We find that they are very dangerous sometimes. Faster guys like Bernard Lagat … you never know if he's done enough training for the half-marathon. Sometimes these guys, they've got a surprise. So we have to be very, very sharp and keep a close watch on them.”
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg