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Kiptum’s coach fears intense training will shorten record career

Kelvin Kiptum will not be slowed or curtailed in intense training, his coach Gervais Hakizimana says, even though it might shorten the career of the new men’s marathon world record-holder.

Kiptum, a 23-year-old Kenyan, set the world record of two hours and 35 seconds on Sunday to win the Chicago Marathon, his third career victory in as many starts after wins last year at Valencia and last April at London.

“He’s very strong. He does all the training properly. He’s in his best years but at some point I’m afraid he’ll get injured,” Hakizimana told AFP.

“He’s training a lot. At this rate he is in danger of breaking, I offered him to slow down the pace but he doesn’t want to.

“I told him that in five years he’d be done, that he needs to calm down to last in athletics.”

Kiptum shattered the old world record of 2:01:09 set by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge at last year’s Berlin Marathon.

And he smashes barriers in training as well, Hakizimana said, sometimes running more than 300km a week.

“Every week, Eliud Kipchoge does between 180 and 220km. Kelvin Kiptum is more between 250 and 280, sometimes more than 300km,” said Hakizimana. “It’s an adventure.

“During the preparation for London, we spent three weeks at more than 300km. It has a very large volume. He works a lot on endurance. When he’s training, he’s strong.”

Hakizimana said the marathon program is planned over four months, starting with strength training at 900km running in the first month.

“The second month between 280 and 300km per week,” he said. “In the fourth month, we gradually reduce the volume, so that we can rest before the race.

“There’s no weekly rest. We rest when he gets tired. If he doesn’t show signs of fatigue or pain for a month, we continue.

“All he does is run, eat, sleep.”

Hakizimana is insisting on a month’s shutdown after Chicago. That message is getting through.

“Kelvin is a guy who likes to communicate, who listens a lot,” Hakizimana said. “We speak in Swahili, a little bit in English. Now he understands me a little bit in Rwandan or French.”

Hakizimana, who is from Rwanda, was a runner who trained for years in Kenya, where he met Kiptum in the youth’s village of Chepkorio.

Ten years ago, barely a teen, Kiptum herded goats and sheep then began following Hakizimana and other runners as they trained.

By 2019, Kiptum ran two half-marathons in two weeks, going 60:48 in Copenhagen and 59:53 in Belfort, France, and began training with Hakizimana, who stayed in Kenya when the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

“I stayed there for a year and I trained him,” Hakizimana said. “We were stuck there. We trained in the forest. I’d run with him. We started a marathon program in 2021.”

The rest, after Sunday, is history.

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