What you need to know:
- Kenneth Mungara won Toronto Waterfront a record four times.
- Makau made a comeback after a two-year injury hiatus to win the Fukuoka Marathon in 2:08:22 on Sunday.
Kenneth Mungara and former World marathon record holder Patrick Makau’s splendid shows in their respective races last weekend was a sure case for an early claim for places in the national marathon team for the World Championships set for Beijing, China, next year.
Running against a field of athletes up to 20 years younger, the 41-year-old Mungara reclaimed the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon title he won last in 2011, when he came home in 2:16:42 to become the oldest winner of an IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
Makau made a comeback after a two-year injury hiatus to win the Fukuoka Marathon in 2:08:22 on Sunday.
Mungara, who won the Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon last year, stayed with the group of a dozen East Africans for just 10 kilometres, before striking out by himself, and building up an unassailable lead, which had stretched to two-and-half minutes at the finish.
Mungara relegated fellow countrymen David Tarus and Charles Kanyao to second and third places in 2:19:07 and 2.19:18, respectively.
GETTING BETTER WITH AGE
“They say wine matures with age and for sure that describes me,” said Mungara, who has now won 10 marathons in his long-distance running career including Toronto Waterfront, Mumbai, Nairobi, Singapore and Prague marathons. He has won the Toronto Waterfront a record four times.
“I think it’s now time to focus on a championship race and my target is the World Championships next year,” said Mungara upon arrival in the country, where he was welcomed by Professional Athletics Association of Kenya (PAAK) members on Monday night at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
It was Mungara’s second victory in Singapore, four years after his first. But so successful has his latter-day career been that the native of Limuru, some 50 kilometres north-west of the capital, Nairobi, has now won nine of his 15 marathons since 2007, with three second places as well.
He also boasts a personal best of 2.07.36 from Prague three years ago.
Mungara, a former barber, was only enticed into running in his mid-30s by the young marathoners who would come to his barber shop.
“I looked at those guys and thought I can beat them. But they were really tough, so I couldn’t at first. I couldn’t even train with them. I trained by myself and, after a while, I went for the half marathon, but I had to drop out. But I saw my mistakes, and I learned."
OPTIMISTIC OF RETURN
Makau, who clocked 2.8:22, came home almost five minutes shy of his former world record and personal best of 2:03:38, set in the 2011 Berlin Marathon.
He beat Ethiopia's Raji Assefa to second and was still happy with his performance and his return to winning ways after struggling to find his best form since his win at the 2012 Frankfurt Marathon.
After the authorities failed to include him in the 2012 London Olympics team even after a promising performance the previous year, Makau is optimistic that he can make the team for next year’s World Championships.
“I am still hopeful that I will soon make the cut in the national team, but we can only leave it to Athletics Kenya since they are the ones who make the selection, ” said Makau.