Mark Kiptoo, who set the world 40 plus best at the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon last year, will return to Germany’s oldest city marathon for its 38th edition on October 27.
The Kenyan ran 2:07:50 12 months ago to finish sixth at this IAAF Gold Label road race while becoming the first 40+ runner to break the 2:08 barrier. At the moment, all signs suggest that the 43-year-old is capable of a further improvement this year as he aims to win the race for a second time.
Indeed, Kiptoo is still running at a very high level which may be due to his late arrival to the event. Kiptoo made his marathon debut at 37 in Frankfurt and finished second in 2:06:15, just one second behind the winner. In 2014, he returned to win in 2:06:49. Three of his five best marathon times have been run in the city. His lifetime best is 2:06:00, achieved in the Dutch city of Eindhoven in 2015.
“I have enjoyed good experiences in the past, finishing second in 2013, winning in 2014 and last year of course breaking the world masters’ best.
“This year my aim will be to challenge to win the race. I believe if I win the race then I probably break the record again. My preparations are going on well and God willing I see another successful day in Frankfurt ahead.”
But Kiptoo has come a long way. He first donned a pair of running spikes just 15 years ago, but soon after his first race, he was posted to Burundi on a peace-keeping mission as part of his duties as a corporal in the Kenyan Air Force. Running had to take a back seat.
When he returned to Kenya in 2006, he joined Kenya Defence Forces training team and quickly began to show promise. In 2007, his first full season as an athlete, he finished third at the Kenyan Cross Country Championships, second in the 5000m at the Kenyan Championships, and took gold and silver at the World Military Games.
Standing on the podium at those events made Kiptoo realise the potential he had. “I could see that I was improving step by step and I told myself that if I continued in the same vein, then I will reach my goal,” said Kiptoo.
One of his career goals was achieved in 2008 when he represented Kenya at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Although he was disappointed to finish 14th, he improved to seventh place at the next edition of the championships 12 months later, just seven seconds from a medal.
In Frankfurt, two Kenyans who impressed at Frankfurt Marathon last year and finished ahead of Kiptoo are also making a return: Amos Mitei, who was fourth with 2:07:28 in 2018 and Kenneth Keter, who finished fifth in 2:07:34. Bernard Kipyego also joins the Kenyan contingent, having won the 2015 Amsterdam Marathon in 2:06:19.