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Cheruiyot Back In Boston, Under The Radar

Kenyan is a dark horse to win Monday's race.

Kenyan is a dark horse to win Monday’s race.

BOSTON — One would think that a recent Boston Marathon winner and course record holder for a non-wind aided run there would be near if not at the center of attention, but Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot sat in the pre-race press conference all by himself, seemingly a forgotten man. However, the lack of attention didn’t seem to bother the slight, 24-year-old Kenyan, who exuded quiet confidence when finally asked about his preparations for his fourth run at Boston.

“My training has gone very well,” he said. “I expect to do my best on Monday.” The only hiccup in his run-up to the race was a slight hamstring issue he incurred three weeks ago on some slippery roads. “It is raining a lot in Kenya right now,” he said. “But the hamstring should not be a problem in the race.”

Known as “the other Robert Cheruiyot” when he debuted in Boston in 2009 — a reference to the four-time Boston winner with the same first and last names — Robert Kiprono eclipsed Robert Kipkoech’s 2:07:14 course record from 2006 when he destroyed the field by almost two minutes while clocking an almost unbelievable time of 2:05:52. Boston purists may consider that the “true” course mark, since Geoffrey Mutai’s 2:03:02 the following year was partially the result of one of the most favorable tailwinds in the 115-year history of the race.

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Cheruiyot doesn’t dwell on times, fast or slow, preferring to concentrate on placing well at one of his two favorite marathons (Frankfurt is the other).

“I have good memories of Boston,” said Cheruiyot, who hails from Bomet, Kenya. “Winning here was a big part of my career.”

His debut in 2009 gave him the important knowledge of the course that enabled him to set the mark the following year.

“The secret is Heartbreak Hill,” he said. “If you can run with the group until then and not tire yourself out, then be able to push on the hills, nobody can follow you and you can break away.”

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Even with the withdrawal of all three U.S. Olympians (Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi and Abdi Abdirahman), the men’s field is once again stacked with talent, but Cheruiyot is still a dark horse for Monday’s race.

Cheruiyot has run the Boston-Frankfurt double three times, winning the latter in 2008, but last year he departed from that routine with less than desirable results. He clocked a 2:25:07 at Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego in June and a 2:21:25 at Amsterdam in October. However, he feels he is once again in the same kind of shape he was in back in 2010.

When asked about his chance for a podium showing on Monday, Cheruiyot grinned and said, “Top 3, no problem.” If he proves correct, chances are he won’t be a forgotten man at next year’s pre-marathon press conference again.

Men’s Elite Field

Lelisa Desisa, 2:04:45 personal best (Dubai, 2013), Ethiopia
Gebre Gebremariam, 2:04:53 (Boston, 2011), Ethiopia
Markos Geneti, 2:04:54 (Dubai, 2012), Ethiopia
Levy Matebo, 2:05:16 (Frankfurt, 2011), Kenya
Dickson Chumba, 2:05:46 (Eindhoven, 2012) CR, Kenya *
Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, 2:05:52 (Boston, 2010), Kenya
Wesley Korir, 2:06:13 (Chicago, 2012), Kenya
Raji Assefa, 2:06:24 (Paris, 2012), Ethiopia
Deriba Merga, 2:06:38 (London, 2006), Ethiopia
Jeffrey Hunt, 2:11:00 (Beppu, 2010), Australia
Jason Hartmann, 2:11:06 (Chicago, 2010), United States
Fernando Cabada, 2:11:53 (Houston, 2012), United States
Robin Watson, 2:13:37 (Rotterdam, 2012), Canada
Micah Kogo, Kenya

* – Denotes course record