This is the preview of the 2023 Boston Marathon from Deji Ogeyingbo. 

Boston Marathon: Eliud Kipchoge eyes landmark win at the world’s oldest annual marathon

The name Eliud Kipchoge is associated with greatness at this point. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Lionel Messi, and Roger Federer. These exclusive lists in the world of sports have transcended how we view Basketball, Golf, Football, and Tennis. And Kipchoge stands in that elite list. At this point in the Kenyan’s career, it is just about taking on new frontiers. Nothing new or defining. Just simply additional accolades to his bucketload of shiny medals to stack on. 

Eliud Kipchoge will run Boston in April 2023; photo from still by NN Running team.

Kipchoge broke long-distance running. Especially the marathon. We – that’s the broad collective mass of everybody that gives even the faintest toss about athletics – have been subject to and subjects within the same story for nearly three decades, ever since it became clear that this lanky runner, this skinny collection of elbows and ankles and angles, was actually the real deal when he burst into the scenes at the Paris 2003 World Championships. 

Will he? Won’t he? Can he? Why can’t he? And now Kipchoge has won everything that is to be won. Well, except for two marathon majors. New York and Boston. The World Record holder will take on Boston next Monday and should most likely scratch it off his list and add it as one of the wins in his illustrious career. 

One does not run a 2:02 marathon or better without focused training, Eliud Kipchoge in a hard session, photo by NN Running team

Having won 15 out of 17 career marathon races, Kipchoge picked up wins in Berlin, London, Tokyo, and Chicago already; the two-time Olympic Champion will look to add Boston to that checklist. But it won’t be easy. 

We’ve used this phrase a lot for Kipchoge in the past, and he keeps throwing eggs in our faces. In Boston, he will face three former champions over the course and seven other men who entered with sub-2:05 personal bests. It isn’t going to be a walk in the park, surely. But what has been for him? Taking down the world record in Berlin twice, became the first man to run inside two hours, and won at the Rio and Tokyo Olympics. If anything, he has shown to thrive better under pressure. 

Eliud Kipchoge, Tokyo 2021, photo by NN Running Team.

The former winners in the men’s field that Kipchoge will come up against are the titleholder Evans Chebet, 2021 champion Benson Kipruto, and the two-time conqueror Lelisa Desisa. Chebet had one of his best years in 2022, as he became just the sixth man in history to win the Boston and New York City Marathons in the same year.

Chebet’s Personal Best of 2:03:00, the winning time at the 2020 Valencia Marathon, makes him the second fastest in the field. Kipchoge’s training partner Benson Kipruto seeks a third Major marathon win after running his personal best of 2:04:24, his winning time in Chicago last year. 

Eliud Kipchoge, 2018 BMW Berlin Marathon, 2:01.39 WR, photo by NN Running team

Aside from the stern competition Kipchoge is set to face, he will also aim at the course record of 2:03:02, set back in 2011 by Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya. The time is two hours and fifty seconds faster than the next fastest time ever run in Boston. That time looks ridiculous considering the downhill nature of the course, which is about 130m, but there is been an indication that the massive tailwind then helped propelled Mutai to such time. 

It was ideal racing conditions. What are the chances we will witness such when Kipchoge shoes up on race day? 2:06, 2:09, 2:07, and 2:15 have been the winning time in the last four editions at Boston. History shows that the weather doesn’t always match up. This race sparks memories of the Rio and Tokyo Olympics, where he ran 2:08 for the win. 

Sharing your victory, Eliud Kipchoge with Patrick Sang, 25 September 2022, photo by NN Running team

Does it matter if he doesn’t break the course record? Maybe our obsession as humans for records to be broken at every turn of events is getting so much that we forget that even the very best we adore are just humans. Fundamentally, running is about winning, and Kipchoge has mastered the art of it. We should delight in the fact he’s still capable of giving us quality performances, and he’s stayed true to his craft.

Alexander wept when there were no more worlds to conquer; athletics sighs, for it will soon be conquered fully. We might finally stop living this story and get on with the business of telling it and retelling it from now until forever. But for now, Kipchoge has the business of getting Boston out of the way.