Although he is undoubtedly one of Uganda’s all-time greats, the three-time Commonwealth gold medalist is yet to get his footing in the marathon world.
In a year when Uganda’s best marathon runners Stephen Kiprotich and Jackson Kiprop flopped massively, three time Commonwealth Games gold medalist Moses Kipsiro knew has gotten really good at what he does when the public started expecting him to do the unexpected. That new level of pressure has now undeniably landed in the lap of Kipsiro, whose seventh-place finish in Sunday’s New York marathan — Kip’s second-ever marathon — is being treated like a huge disappointment and a major flop from one of the Africa’s best athletes.
Kipsiro who once again made a switch from the 5,000m and 10,000m races to marathon tried to keep with the front pack but failed to keep the pace.
Apparently, people don’t understand that just because Kipsiro was dominant on the track, it doesn’t mean he’ll instantly become a star on a 42-kilometre road course in an event he’d never run competitively before in his life. Distance runners and marathoners are not exactly the same kind of athlete. It’s going to take a few races for Kipsiro to be up there with the best in the world in that particular event.
That said, it’s not like Kipsiro was far off from the best in the world in his debut.
He finished seventh. In two hours, fourteen minutes and 18 seconds. Seventh. In one of the marquee marathons in the world, only six runners finished ahead of Kipsiro.
The winner was Ghimray Ghebreslassie of Eritrea with a time of 2:07:51, adding to a résumé that includes the 2015 World title and a fourth-place finish at the Rio Olympics just 11 weeks earlier. Kenya’s Lucas Rotich was second with a time of 2:08:53 but defending champion Stanley Biwott withdrew at the 10-mile mark with a right calf injury
American Abdi Abdirahman placed third followed by Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Japan) 2:11:49, American Shadrack Biwott 2:12:01 and Tadesse Yae Dabi of Ethiopia 2:13:06 before Kipsiro. Desisa, who was the runner-up in New York in 2014 and a two-time Boston Marathon winner, dropped out at the 22nd mile.
See where I’m going? The marathoners that beat Moses Kipsiro on Sunday are marathoners. It wasn’t like Kipsiro jumped into some random marathon against weekend Kampala road hashers and got dusted. He made his debut in New York against world-class, elite competition, and he still managed a top-10 finish. He was only a long commercial break behind the winner.
With this intent and result, hopefully Kipsiro can be added on the tentative 49-man list unveiled by Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) last month for the 2017 World Cross-country Championships at Kololo grounds on March 26 next year.
Kipsiro’s debut marathon saw him post a time of 2:15:48 as he finished a distant 14th in Hamburg, Germany on April 17. He qualified for the Rio Olympics but was not selected because there were faster marathoners on the Ugandan team.