When Nedbank Running Club Kenya’s Justin Cheshire crossed the line at Two Oceans last year to take victory, it marked only the 2nd time that a Kenyan has been victorious in the event’s history. Worldwide, East African athletes, especially Kenyan’s, dominate the road running scene and the major league marathons, but have not specifically ventured into the ultra marathon territory. Until now that is.
Sabc commentator Cuan Walker remarked last year during the event’s TV broadcast that Cheshire’s victory and his fellow countrymen’s two gold medals behind him “may open the floodgate to the East African nation to prove that they to can run ultra marathons when they specifically prepare for them.” That is definitely the case for 2019.
This year, Cheshire returns to the Cape in an attempt to defend his title and returns with a host of Nedbank Running Club Kenya team mates and the scary thing is even though he is the defending champion, on paper his team mates stand head over heels on him in terms of performances.
With the help of IAAF accredited manager Craig fry who last year brought out Cheshire, Fry has put together a formidable Green Dream team from the east African nation. Forming part of the Nedbank Running Club Kenya Green Dream team are:
Justin Cheshire – Defending Two Oceans Marathon Champion
Jesse Gichuhi – 10th place Two Oceans Marathon 2018
Melly Kennedy – Double Two Oceans Marathon gold medalist 2017 & 2018
Amos Maiyo - 2:14 marathon best, former Cape Town Marathon winner
Abraham Kiprotich – 2:08:33 marathon best
Standing out above the rest, Abraham Kiprotich who now represents France and toom part in the 2012 Olympic Games Marathon, boasts a 2:08:33 marathon best and from recent marathon victories, tends to do well the tougher the conditions. In 2018, Kiprotich took victory in the extremely competitive Lagos City marathon which pays $50 000 to the victor, and finished 3rd in the Istanbul Marathon in 2:10:55, a race which he won in 2017.
Together with former Cape Town Marathon winner Amos Maiyo and Bernard Kiprono, the trio will train together in Kapsabet ahead of the Cape Classic, with Kiprotich and Maiyo running the Lagos City Marathon on Saturday as their qualifier. Kennedy and Gichuhi will train in the lower altitude of Ngong with Cheshire training in Kaptagat, the same village and training base of marathon World record holder Eliud Kipchoge.
Speaking to Fry on the team’s goals for this year races, a smile crosses his face. “This is the year that the first serious attempt at the race record happens.” Weather would have to play it’s part to on the day but the squad have no intentions of just going for a win, they want to be in the record books.
“The guy’s training is going really well, and we have different scenarios we are preparing for and are really focused on. The volume of the training has not changed vastly to their normal marathon prep with the exception of going a little further in the long runs.”
With the addition of these World class marathon runners now making the move up to the ultra distance, it is going to make for some interesting viewing come race day. Time will tell whether the race record can be broken, but with the caliber of athletes toeing the line this year, it’s definitely not out of reach.