Kenyan takes 2 seconds off the world record for 40-and-older runners.
Kenneth Mungara, a 41-year-old Kenyan, won the SuisseGas Milano Marathon on Sunday in 2:08:44, setting a new masters marathon world record in the process.
Mungara, who hails from Limuru (about 40K from Nairobi), ran the fastest marathon ever by a runner over 40, shaving two seconds from the time Mexico’s Andres Espinosa ran in the 2003 Berlin Marathon.
Mungara didn’t run his first marathon until 2007 at age 34, when he placed fourth at the Cologne Marathon in 2:11:36.
Sunday’s outing was the fourth fastest of Mungara career and he has won 10 of his 21 marathons in a late-blooming career. He set his PR of 2:07:36 while finishing second at the Prague Marathon in 2011 at the age of 36.
“The course and the weather were good. You can run fast times. It was a tough race until the end,” said Mungara, after crossing the finishing line in the Corso Venezia in the centre of Milan.
For reference, American Meb Keflezighi ran his PR of 2:08:37 en route to winning the 2014 Boston Marathon just two weeks before his 39th birthday last spring.
Mungara only started running seriously in his early 30s, famously deciding to take up the sport when he started cutting the hair of some world-class runners in his barber shop.
“I looked at these guys and I thought, ‘I can beat them’. I soon realized that they were tough,” he recalls. “I could not beat them at first. I could not even train with them. I trained by myself. After a while, I went to a half marathon but I had to drop out, but I learned from my mistakes.”
Nine men initially formed the leading group featuring the two Kenyan pacemakers Emmanuel Kichwen and Asbel Kipsang, Mungara and six other compatriots: Philemon Baaru, William Koitile, Samson Bungei, Cyprian Kotut and Paul Lipkorir Kipkemoi as well as Caldeira De Almeida from Brazil.
They went through at 5K in 15:15, 10K in 30:24, 15K in 45:40 and they hit the halfway mark in 1:04:11.
Kipsang and Kichwen then passed through 30K in 1:31:22 with a gap of 10 seconds back to Kotut, Baaru, Koitile, Bungei and Mungara.
As the pacemakers dropped out, the leading pack was whittled down to five runners just after 30K: Mungara, Baaru, Bungei, Kotut and Koitile.
This group battled it out until 40K before Mungara then broke away with 1K to go.
Cyprian Kotut, the younger brother of three-time London Marathon winner Martin Lel, finished second in 2:08:55 in his debut over the distance. Two more men dipped under 2:10: Philemon Baaru was third in 2:09:08 and Koitile fourth in 2:09:58.