We previewed four upcoming star-studded half marathons a week ago, and the first of them, Friday’s RAK Half Marathon in the United Arab Emirates, didn’t disappoint. A record three runners broke 59 minutes, led by Geoffrey Kipsang in 58:54, followed by Stanley Biwott in 58:56 and Geoffrey Mutai in 58:58. It was only seven years ago that the emperor Haile Gebrselassie first broke the 59 minute mark, and already it’s been achieved by 12 other men, 10 of them Kenyans.
On the women’s side, Lucy Kabuu won a similarly fast race in 66:09. Three other women broke 67 minutes, also a record.
Back to Geoffrey Kipsang: He’s just 20 years old and has the potential to be a marathon star, judging by his half and XC performances. He’s run only one marathon, a 2:06:12 third-place finish in Berlin last year. Geoffrey is not related to Wilson Kipsang, who might be the best world’s top marathoner right now. In addition to his Olympic bronze medal from the London Games, Wilson beat a stellar field at the London Marathon last year in 2:04:44 and won Frankfurt the year before that in 2:03:42, only four seconds off the world record.
So who would win a duel over 26.2 miles, the Kipsangs or the Mutais? Geoffrey Mutai ran that wind-aided 2:03:02 at Boston in 2011, the fastest marathon ever run, although it wasn’t on a record-eligible course. He then set a course record at New York the same year (2:05:05), and won Berlin last year in a swift 2:04:15. Emmanuel Mutai (not related to Geoffrey) has a long list of credits including the London Marathon course record of 2:04:40 which he set in 2011.
It’s tough, but we’ll give the slight edge to the Kipsangs, who appear to have more momentum in the last year or so. The Mutais were world-beaters in 2011, and while we can’t say Geoffrey Mutai is in a slump after a 58:58 personal best at 13.1 miles, his namesake Emmanuel finished 11th in the same race today in 61:32.
Wilson Kipsang and both Mutais are scheduled to run London on April 21. No info yet on Geoffrey Kipsang’s next marathon attempt.