Unknown Kenyan athlete, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, smashes Frankfurt marathon record

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Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, who has never made a trip outside Kenya, smashed the course record in the German Dresdener Kleinwort Frankfurt Marathon Sunday, clocking two hours, seven minutes, 21 seconds, on his debut race, according to the IAAF.

Because despite the famous name that he shares with the four-time winner of the Boston Marathon, whose middle name is Kipkoech, winner Robert K. Cheruiyot was completely unknown — but now ‘Not any more!’

Not only that this was his debut marathon, it was his first trip outside Kenya. And he was such a late entry to this 27th edition of Germany’s oldest city Marathon, that he had to buy his own air ticket, with the elite race coordinator Christoph Kopp promising to reimburse him, if he broke 2:14.

Now, not only will he get his airfare back, but he will collect 50,000 euros for taking over half a minute off the course record of 2:07:58.

The most extraordinary factor is that his only known performance is the 20th position in a half-marathon in Kenya early this year, when he ran just over 64 minutes. Yet he was already prominent in the big group, mostly Kenyans who went through the ‘half’ here in a chilly 6 degrees centigrade, in 63:45.

The field gradually whittled down until there were only two other colleagues with him, Wilson Kigen and Stephen Kiagora.

Cheruiyot eased away just after 35 of the 42.195 kilometres, and had almost a minute lead when he crossed the line to the accompaniment of fireworks and music in the spectacular indoor setting of the Frankfurt Festhalle.

Kigen was second in 2:08:16, and Kiagora, trying to catch him had a nasty fall on the final turn into the Festhalle, and had to settle for third in 2:08:24.

To add to the name confusion, both Cheruiyots come from the town of Kaptagat, near Eldoret in the western highlands of Kenya.

“But we are not related,” said the winner immediately after a victory which surprised even himself. “When the field began to break up, I thought that I might be third, but I’m very happy to win.”

According to his manager, Jos Hermens, Cheruiyot was persuaded to make a late bid to enter the race on the advice of a training partner, William Kiplagat, who said he was more than ready to go the distance. Kiplagat himself finished 10th.

The race served to underline the domination of Kenyans in worldwide marathons. There were 17 Kenyans in the top 20 here.

The women’s race was a triumph for Sabrina Mockenhaupt, who clocked a personal best 2:26:22, taking more than three minutes off her debut best in Hamburg last year.

The full results are as follows: MEN – 1. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (KEN) 2:07:21 2. Wilson Kigen (KEN) 2:08:16 3. Stephen Kiogora (KEN) 2:08:24 4. Philemon Kirwa Tarbei (KEN) 2:08:47 5. Benson Barus (KEN) 2:08:57 6. Japhet Kosgei (KEN) 2:09:24 7. Benjamin Maiyo (KEN) 2:09:58 8. Julius Kibet Koskei (KEN) 2:10:14 9. Vincent Kipsos (KEN) 2:10:23 10. William Kiplagat (KEN) 2:10:53

WOMEN – 1. Sabrina Mockenhaupt (GER) 2:26:22 2. Olesya Nurgalieva (RUS) 2:27:37 3. Melanie Kraus (GER) 2:28:20 4. Irene Limika (KEN) 2:28:31 5. Kirsten Melkevik Otterbu (NOR) 2:29:40 6. Leah Malot (KEN) 2:32:02 7. Ornella Ferrara (ITA) 2:32:13 8. Flora Kandie (KEN) 2:34:16 9. Yelena Nurgalieva (RUS) 2:36:01 10. Bernadette Pichlmaier (GER) 2:38:00

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