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Regardless of his finish time or place in Monday’s Boston Marathon, Kenya’s Emmanuel Mutai is poised to make history. Should the 32-year-old Kenyan finish the race, he will become the first athlete to complete all eight marathons which comprise of the Abbott World Marathon Majors: Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York, Olympic Games, Tokyo, and the World Championships.
Mutai, the fastest man in the field with a career best time of 2:03:13, has compiled one of the best records in the history of marathon running. According to statistics compiled by the Association of Road Racing Statisticians (ARRS), Mutai has completed 20 marathons since taking up the distance in 2007 when he made his debut in Rotterdam in a modest 2:13:05. He has recorded nine podium finishes (including two victories) and only finished outside of the top-10 three times. He is the fourth-fastest man of all time on record-quality courses, and he’s run sub-2:07 nine times. The ARRS says his life-to-date prize money is $1,485,462, a figure which doesn’t include appearance fees or personal bonuses paid by race organizers, and any earnings from his longtime sponsor, adidas.
Mutai says that consistent training under his longtime coach Patrick Sang has been the key to both his success and his longevity.
“For me, I didn’t change the training,” Mutai said in an interview with Race Results Weekly here today. “Maybe I only focus on training, good preparation and also doing a lot of exercises. I’m getting massage all the time, which prevents injuries.” He added: “Coach has done a great achievement, too. I follow what he has to say so I can achieve my goals.”
Mutai’s first Major was the London Marathon in 2008, where he finished fourth in a personal best of 2:06:16. Little did he know that London would become the race which would define his career. He would answer the starter’s pistol in Blackheath seven more times, making the podium three times and winning in 2011 in a then course record of 2:04:40.
He nearly won London again in 2013. He was leading the race by 28 seconds at the 40K mark, but was done-in by crippling pain in his hip and thigh. He finished second in 2:06:33 to Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede.
“I thought I might win today, but could not pick up the pace in the late stages,” Mutai told Race Results Weekly at the time.
In London he finished 4th, 4th, 2nd, 1st, 6th, 2nd, 7th and 11th. He was also 17th at the 2012 London Olympic Marathon, the lowest finish place of his marathon career.
“For me, I can say London was my favorite,” Mutai said after pausing to think. “But also Chicago, New York, Berlin because Berlin I ran my personal best. Also in New York, we ran a course record there. London I set the course record. Even Chicago, I ran a personal best over there. All the majors I’ve run are my favorites.”
Mutai ran the BMW Berlin Marathon three years in a row, from 2014 through 2016. In 2014, he came in second to Dennis Kimetto who set the still-standing world record of 2:02:57. Mutai ran 2:03:13, also under Wilson Kipsang’s previous record of 2:03:23. He smiles now when asked how if felt to break the world record, but not become the world record-holder.
“The guy who was in front of me ran a world record,” Mutai said, smiling. “But for me, I set my personal best at that time which was quite an improvement for me.”
Also in Berlin, Mutai won the silver medal at the IAAF World Championships in 2009 on a different course.
After coming in seventh in Tokyo in 2016, Mutai needed only to run Boston to run all eight Majors. It’s an incredible feat to get invitations for all six of the commercial races, plus get selected for the IAAF World Championships and the Olympic Games by Athletics Kenya. Wesley Korir, and Olympian who won the Boston Marathon in 2012, marvels at Mutai’s achievement.
“I think it means a lot,” Mutai told Race Results Weekly. “For him to be able to stay healthy, and to be able to have the time to run all six and to be invited to all six. I think it’s an honor for him. It’s a privilege that many people want to do, but they don’t get to do it.”
In Boston, Mutai said he was looking to see how difficult the course is. He said New York, where he finished second twice, was the hardest of the Majors he’s run. He described his goal for Monday plainly.
“My goal is just going for the win,” Mutai said matter-of-factly. “Time doesn’t matter in Boston. Winning is the most important.”
NOTE: Assuming he finishes on Monday, Mutai will officially become an Abbott World Marathon Majors Six Star finisher, an honor bestowed on any runner who finishes all six of the commercial events in the series. After receiving his own Six Star medal, he’ll be presenting those medals to other Six Star finishers at a special tent just past the finish line.