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Canova Predicts Marathon World Record This Spring

Famed Italian coach believes as many as 8 men will break 2:04 in 2012.

Could Patrick Makau's marathon word record of 2:03:38, set this past September, be short lived? Photo:

The famed Italian coach believes as many as 8 men will break 2:04 in 2012.

Written by: David Monti

(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Renato Canova, perhaps the world’s most highly regarded marathon coach, predicted in an interview that Patrick Makau’s marathon world record would fall in the spring, and that as many as eight athletes would break the 2:04 mark next year.

“What I am sure is that next year after London Marathon the record is no more Patrick Makau, and the record is under 2:03,” Canova told Italian blogger Alberto Stretti in a video interview while in Bolzano for the Boclassic road race on New Year’s Eve.

Canova, who coaches world record holder Moses Mosop and two-time world marathon champion Abel Kirui amongst others, said that it was more likely that Makau’s mark would be surpassed in Rotterdam than in London.

Video–Renato Canova: “This season was the basis of a new era for the marathon.”

Renato Canova. Photo:

“Not in London,” Canova said wearing his trademark sunglasses. “The first attempt is in Rotterdam. Moses Mosop to go Rotterdam for running the world record one week before London. And, if he has some problem and it is not possible, in any case, in London there is Wilson Kipsang, there is the same Makau and I think that it is possible to try. If this year, Emmanuel Mutai ran 2:04:40, if the conditions are OK it is possible to also try in London, faster than 2:03:38.”

Canova said that the Rotterdam field would also feature the marathon debut of Kenyan Sammy Kitwara (58:48 half-marathon personal best), and the first full marathon attempt from gun to tape of Peter Cheruiyot Kirui, the man who helped pace both Makau at Berlin to 2:03:38 and Wilson Kipsang in Frankfurt to 2:03:42 (after pacing, Kirui decided to finish in Frankfurt and clocked 2:06:31 in his debut). Kirui was the Kenyan 10,000m champion in 2011 and finished sixth at the IAAF World Championships.

“Peter Kirui is another athlete who can run under 2:04, immediately,” Canova said.

When asked to name the world’s best marathon runners, he cited Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai, the Boston and New York winner, as currently the best.

“If I give my personal list, number one is Geoffrey Mutai,” Canova said. “Geoffrey was the only one to win in two Majors with the best time, ever in Boston. Number two exactly I put Moses Mosop and Wilson Kipsang, and after that I put behind Patrick Makau and Abel Kirui, who has a possibility to improve a lot looking at the training he had. And, behind yet Emmanuel Mutai, looking at, and also waiting for, Kitwara and Peter Kirui. At the end, eight people all 100% very much under 2:04, and some of them under 2:03.”

Wilson Kipsang might have beaten Makau’s world record in Frankfurt, Canova said, except that the final section of that race has two many turns and an indoor finish which prevents the lead vehicle from going all the way to the finish line.

“Frankfurt for Wilson Kipsang was faster than Berlin because… Frankfurt in the last kilometer is very complicated with a lot of turns, and is not possible to have the watch (clock) in front,” Canova posited. “So, practically, Wilson was not able to understand exactly the pace.”

Amongst the women, Canova said that Liliya Shobukhova was most likely to win the Olympic gold medal in the marathon next summer, citing her abilities to both control her pace and run in rising and higher temperatures.

“About the women, I have several women under my control that can look for a medal at the Olympics. But honestly, the Shobukhova I saw in Chicago in my opinion is unbeatable if there is the same shape. She was running the last half in 68:55, the last two kilometers in 6:52 with a temperature of 29 degrees (Celsius) and very high humidity. I don’t think anybody else can run that fast.”

While acknowledging the accomplishments of world half-marathon record holder Mary Keitany (who is trained by rival Italian coach Gabriele Nicola), Canova said that observers should be looking at other Kenyan women, too, for good marks in the New Year.

“I’m not sure, completely, that Mary Keitany is the strongest Kenyan,” he said. “We need to see the progress of Florence Kiplagat, especially (2:19:44 PB), and to look also what is happening in Dubai (in January) with Lucy Kabuu (where the 67:04 half-marathoner will make her marathon debut).”

Canova was not bullish on Ethiopia’s chances to dominate the marathon in 2012. In particular, he said that the coaching in that country at the marathon distance was far behind the level in Kenya right now.

“Technically speaking, we have now a different value of the training for marathon between the Kenyans and Ethiopians,” he said, naming Tesgaye Kebede as that nation’s top marathoner. “Kenyans are very much more advanced with methodology than Ethiopians, exactly the opposite of what happened years ago when we were speaking about the 5000 and 10,000 meters. Sometimes there are cycles in the countries.”