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Martin Lel


Martin Lel

Martin Lel of Kenya was the dominant marathon runner of the 2000s. He won the New York City Marathon in 2003 and 2007 and the London Marathon in 2005, 2007, and 2008. Lel captured the last of those London titles with a personal best 2:05:15, setting a course record. He was known for his finishing kick, which helped him in the late stages of many races.

Lel competed in track and cross country in high school, and after graduation he received an invitation to attend an elite training camp. His first big international win came at the 2003 Lisbon Half Marathon, where he finished in 1.00:10. Later that year, he raced to a gold medal at the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Vilamoura, Portugal. He represented Kenya at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he finished in fifth in the marathon. Injuries kept Lel from running the London Marathon in 2009 and 2010, but he came back strong, placing second in 2011 and 2012.

In 2011, the nonprofit organization Shoe4Africa opened its first school, the Shoe4Africa Martin Lel Secondary School, in Lel’s home village. Retired from international competition, Lel turns 40 on October 29.

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