The 2:03:06 debut marathoner runs his second 26.2-miler in Chicago on Sunday.
Interview by: Sabrina Yohannes
Moses Mosop of Kenya was a medalist at the 2005 track and 2007 cross country world championships, but the next few years were not as fruitful. So some months after winning Milan’s Stramilano half marathon in 59:20 in March 2010, he decided to make his marathon debut at Boston in April 2011. That proved to be wildly successful when he placed second after pushing his Kenyan compatriot Geoffrey Mutai almost to the finish line, and the pair ran to unprecedented 2:03:02 and 2:03:06 finishes in optimal race conditions.
Mutai’s time was not recognized as a world record due to the course having an excessive net drop in elevation and being unidirectional, which allowed the continued benefit of a tailwind. But Mosop felt he could break the then-world record of 2:03:59 on a different course, and he set his sights on the Chicago Marathon, which takes place this Sunday, October 9. The men’s field includes American Ryan Hall, who ran 2:04:58 in Boston, and three others who have run under 2:07.
Mosop broke the long-standing track world records for 25,000m and 30,000m on the track at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on June 3, running 1:12:25.4 and 1:26:47.4 respectively, before taking third in the BAA 10K on June 26.
After his competitions in April and June, and again a few days before heading to Chicago, Mosop talked to Competitor.com about his races and his world record designs, including his thoughts on Patrick Makau’s new world record of 2:03:38.
Moses Mosop Interview, Part I.
Competitor.com: Tell me about the Boston Marathon.
Moses Mosop: In the beginning, I was feeling very well, and afterwards, I was feeling very well. But I was worried because when I was maybe around 35K, I thought maybe I will get tired because it’s my first marathon. Then when I was at 38, I saw I was OK, so I tried to push with Geoffrey. I wanted to try to win and leave Geoffrey, but Geoffrey was hanging in, so then I said, no problem. … I was feeling that I wanted to try to win, but when we started to sprint, I tried to sprint, but my legs were not moving.
How do you feel about the race?
I’m very happy because it’s my first time and we did a great job. … I was expecting maybe I will run 2:07 or 2:08 but I was surprised when I ran 2:03.
Who do you train with?
I train with my coach, Renato Canova, and with some athletes [including] Abel Kirui.
Do you always train with [world marathon champion] Abel Kirui? Where do you train?
We are with the same management so we are training together. We train in Iten.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from a place called Marakwet [district], a place called Kamasia.
Do you have siblings who run?
I have a little brother, younger than me, Philimon Mosop. We are training together. Now he’s around 19.
Has he run internationally or only in Kenya?
He competed in Kenya. He ran 12K [cross country]. He was position 5 in the district. He’s still developing.
You took world championship bronze on the track in 2005 [over 10,000m] and cross country silver in 2007. Tell me about the years after that.
When I was training on the track and cross country, I always had a problem in my tendon. I had a problem in my legs, both legs. When I went to the track, I used spikes, so I stopped it now. So I said maybe I will go to the marathon and after that, I changed my program and left track and cross country and then I changed my focus to the marathon.
When did the tendon injuries start?
When I train on the track, sometimes one year I train very well and then the coming year, there’s nothing I can do. It came when I was going for the Olympics in 2008 and also in 2009. … Always the same injury. … In 2010, I was supposed to go to the track. I had the same injury. Always tendons.
Moses Mosop Interview, Part II
Tell me about your [25,000m and 30,000m] world record race in Eugene.
It was very nice. I was prepared and I was feeling very well, and I made it. … [After Boston] I recovered, I rested one week and I started again to train because I wanted this world record in Eugene. … I’m happy because not all people have that.
Was it difficult to run so many laps alone?
Not for me. When I was running alone, I was managing to go at the pace of the pacemakers.
After the race, you wore a T-shirt that said “Stop Mosop” [inspired by “Stop Pre” referring to Pre Classic meet namesake Steve Prefontaine].
They gave it to me at the race because they said it’s the name of a guy who was running there, he was a great man. I don’t know the meaning, but there’s a story behind it. He’s a famous runner. It’s something good, not something bad.
You had said that in recent years, you had injury problems on the track, so how were you able to do so many laps on the track and not have a problem?
Even after that, I felt a little bit in my tendon again.
When did that begin?
After Eugene, when I finished the race and went back to Kenya and went and trained, I felt my legs were not good.
Moses Mosop Interview, Part III (Conducted June 26)
In the past, how long did the tendon injury usually take to get better?
Now, it’s not like those other times because the other times, it cost me a lot. … Now I will rest maybe one week and then I will begin again because I know there’s a lot of work for Chicago. I have to focus on Chicago to run well there, better than Boston. I want to improve my time in Chicago.
So the injury is not as bad as in the past?
Yes, we think it’s not as serious like the other times. It’s only a small problem. I’ll go to physiotherapy and everything will be OK. … In the [BAA] 10K it was very tight. When I wanted to start to go and catch them, I said, I have a lot of work, let me not pressure myself and get a problem. It’s a small problem, but a big problem is dangerous.
What do you expect in Chicago? [Note: These 6/26 expectations are updated below.]
In Boston, I ran 2:03:06. Maybe I will drop some seconds there.
So you expect you can break the official world record [then 2:03:59]?
Yes, when the weather is good, I will, 100%.
The Boston winning time was not recognized officially as a world record because of the wind and other things, but you believe you can actually run that [low 2:03] kind of time?
I want to prove it. To show we were able to do this.
What do you think of the Chicago course?
I saw the whole course. It’s not bad. It’s not like Boston. … What I’m worried about in Chicago is the weather. … If the weather is good that day, we will do a good job.
Is there something in particular about the weather that concerns you?
Maybe it might be 9 degrees or 7 degrees there [Centigrade, or 48-44 degrees Fahrenheit]. For me, what’s better is around 12 or 13 [54-55]. [Note: Sunday’s forecast is for warmer weather.]
You’ve become very famous after your first marathon. How do you feel about that?
I feel great. That’s why I don’t want to go down from there. I want to improve my time and continue to run well.
Moses Mosop Interview, Part IV (Conducted Sept. 30)
How is your preparation for Chicago?
My preparation is not bad. I’m feeling well.
You had told me about the tendon problem you had after Eugene, and I understand you lost some training time in July.
Yes, I still have a little pain in my tendon. … I’m maybe at 80% of my shape.
When we spoke last time, you believed you could break the world record in Chicago. How do you feel now?
I’m going to try to win, but not to break the world record. Not now, maybe next time.
The world record is harder now than it was before because Patrick Makau broke it. Do you still think you can do it?
Now Makau has the world record. … But it is OK, I will still make it.
So you still think you can do it. Next year, maybe?
Yes, next year. Because after Chicago, I will be training and then I have a long time to prepare.
Last time, you ran a half marathon before Boston, but this time, I didn’t see any. Did you run a race to test yourself before Chicago?
I didn’t, because I was having a problem with my leg.
It’s been reported that Makau and Abel Kirui will be running the London Olympic marathon. Were you hoping to make the Kenyan Olympic team?
For me, I’m maybe not as interested in that; I’m interested in the world record. … I want to try my best time next year.
Your wife [Florence Kiplagat] did not finish the Boston marathon, but she ran very well in Berlin [winning in 2:19:44]. Tell me about that.
I don’t know much about that because we are not together now. … We separated.
Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Well, thank you very much, and good luck in Chicago.
Thank you very much.
About the Author:
Sabrina Yohannes is a freelance journalist from Ethiopia based in New York. She has written for Reuters, The New York Times,The Washington Post, IAAF, Running Times, Runner’s World and Universal Sports.