Why Eliud Kipchoge Can’t Break His Own Marathon World Record in Boston

Why Eliud Kipchoge Can’t Break His Own Marathon World Record in Boston

Martin Moses
updated at April 15, 2023 at 6:09 AM
  • Eliud Kipchoge will, for the first time in his career, take part in the Boston Marathon
  • Kipchoge will come up against decent opposition in Evans Chebet and Gabriel Geay
  • However, the world record cannot officially be broken, however crazy the time is on Monday

When Eliud Kipchoge takes to the course on Patriots Day, he will be expected to win the Boston Marathon. Anything less than a first-place finish will send shockwaves across the world.

Such are the high standards the 38-year-old has set for himself. On April 17th, he will be seeking to win in his fifth World Marathon Major. He has previously claimed victories in four of the six marathon majors.

Eliud Kipchoge, Boston Marathon, Berlin Marathon
Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after smashing the marathon world record in Berlin on September 25th. Photo by Marvin Ibo Guengoer - GES Sportfoto.
Source: Getty Images

Kipchoge has won the Berlin marathon, where he famously set the fastest two times in history; the London, Chicago, and Tokyo marathons. Should he win in Boston, as reported by Sports Brief, the New York Marathon will be the only major where he hasn't won.

On paper, it is Kipchoge's marathon to lose. However, on closer introspection, the two-time Olympic champion will face an unfamiliar course with worthy competitors.

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On top of that list is the defending champion Evans Chebet whose personal best stands at 2:03:00 alongside Ethiopian Gabriel Geay. The two, Chebet and Geay, know the Boston course well, unlike Kipchoge, who will be making a debut in the capital of Massachusetts.

Boston's hilly terrain might present a challenge for a newcomer Kipchoge, who will be seeking to set a course record times in four marathon majors.

But that won't be Kipchoge's only problem. Any records set at the Boston Marathon are not recognisable by World Athletics. This, in essence, means, even if he were to run a sub-two race on Monday, the record won't go down as an official record.

The current official record stands at 2:01;09 set by Kipchoge in Berlin last year. He is also the only human to have run a marathon in under 2 hours when he did so in Vienna, Austria in 2019 under special conditions.

Unique Boston marathon

This begs the question, how comes a lucrative course such as Boston is not ratified by the governing body for Athletics? According to marathon rules, a marathon record will be recognisable if, the course goes into a loop, i.e, the starting point is in close proximity to the finishing line.

"Performances achieved on courses where the start and finish points, measured along a theoretical straight line between them, are further apart than 50% of the race distance are…not valid for world records," according to the World Athletics Website.

According to NBC Boston, the marathon starts in Hopkinton and runs through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton and Brookline, finishing across from the Boston Public Library and Old South Church in Boston's Copley Square in the city's Back Bay neighbourhood.

Additionally, the elevation of the course, whether downhill or downhill, is also deemed to be off as a parameter of determining a recognised time as an athlete might get help or be obstructed by the wind.

"The course elevation sees runners going down 140m over the 42km course, an average of 3.33m per km which contravenes the World Athletics requirement of "not exceeding an average of one metre per kilometre," as quoted by the Olympics Website.

That notwithstanding, Kipchoge will be out to create a new course record by eclipsing Geoffrey Mutai's record of 2:03;02 in 2011. No one has run a race under 2:05:00 since Mutai.

Bring on Boston.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)
Eliud Kipchoge