Senior writer Justin Lagat, our journalist in Kenya, wrote this piece last week, and I have been remiss in posting this wonderful piece! Thanks, Justin! 

Two-time Olympic Champion Eliud Kipchoge and Benson Kipruto, the Chicago, Boston, and Tokyo marathon champion, lead a formidable men’s team to the Paris Olympics this year. The National Olympic Committee of Kenya just announced this.

This time, the Kenyan men’s marathon team seemed to have been named by simply listing the top five fastest runners in the Paris 2024 qualifying period, which began on November 6th, 2022, and ended on May 5th, 2024. It wasn’t that complicated.

Given the country’s many marathon talents, it has always been a big problem that most other countries wish they had—to name the final marathon team from a long list of contenders to represent the country at the major championships.

Within the past seven months, three Kenyan runners have run below 2:03 in the marathon, while other countries still struggle to get enough qualified runners for the Olympic event. More than seventy Kenyan male runners have already run faster than the Olympic qualification time of 2:08:10.

Kipruto is the fastest qualifier, with his 2:02:16 time, and he ran to win the Tokyo Marathon in March of this year. Kipchoge’s Berlin Marathon time of 2:02:42, which he ran to win the marathon in September last year, secured him a place in the team, while Timothy Kiplagat Rono’s time of 2:02:55, which placed him second behind Kipruto in Tokyo, saw his name featured in the final list of five.

The two sub-2:04 performers are Alexander Mutiso Munyao, who ran 2:03:11 to finish second at the Valencia Marathon last December, and Vincent Kipkemboi Ngetich, who ran 2:03:13 at the Berlin Marathon last year to finish second behind Eliud Kipchoge.

With this selection criteria, former world record holder Kipchoge can now get to defend his Olympic title and achieve a hat-trick following his Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic titles.

Had they gone by the World Athletics rankings, Evans Chebet, who won the 2022 New York City and the 2022 and 2023 Boston Marathons and is currently ranked tenth, would have come ahead of Kipchoge, who is ranked 16th.

While the selection looks fair, Perhaps Chebet, who interestingly beat Kipchoge and Kipruto at the 2023 Boston Marathon, wasn’t named to the team because he didn’t run in one of the fastest marathon courses.