It was announced on December 21 that Eliud Kipchoge, former WR holder of marathon and two-time Olympic gold medalist, will compete in the 2024 Tokyo Marathon. Justin Lagat had some thoughts about Eliud Kipchoge’s announcement. 

Is it just a coincidence that Kipchoge chose the Tokyo Marathon as his first marathon race in 2024, or is it by design?

In a brief announcement, Kipchoge mentions the pure culture, discipline, and kindness of the people of Tokyo as one of the reasons that inspired him to run the Tokyo Marathon on 3rd March 2024.

Eliud Kipchoge training, photo by NN Running Team

But below are more of the reasons that could make it a perfect race for him.

They say that the first impression is the lasting impression. Tokyo Marathon is a relatively fast course, and there is a good chance that one or two runners there in March could run world-leading times early in the year. Running a world-leading time ahead of the Olympics will be a great morale boost as one prepares for the big races in the year ahead.

So, for Kipchoge, whether by design or coincidence, the earlier he runs in the year, the better the chances are for him to run a world-leading time and make a good first and lasting impression in 2024.

Secondly, Kipchoge -as much as his fans- is eager to respond after Kelvin Kiptum broke his world record and overtook him as the world’s best-ranked marathon runner in the world. The nearest World Marathon Majors’ marathon he could get into to restore his reign as the king of marathon running was the Tokyo Marathon.

Eliud Kipchoge, September 22, 2023, Berlin Marathon, photo by Kevin Morris

His performance in the Tokyo Marathon will be seen as a reply to Kiptum in their fight for supremacy in the event.

Thirdly, Kiptum, the world record holder who is just 35 seconds short of running a sub-2 hr marathon, announced last month that he will be running at the Rotterdam Marathon on 14th April and aiming to run a fast time.

Only in his third marathon and while running the world record at the Chicago Marathon in October, Kiptum had improved on his personal best time by 50 seconds. If his upward trajectory continues, he is seen by many as the runner likely to run the marathon in under two hours on a record-eligible course.

One does not run a 2:02 marathon or better without focused training, Eliud Kipchoge in a hard session, photo by NN Running team

So, by running in Tokyo, Kipchoge will have the first attempt at going for a sub-two-hour marathon before Kiptum does it.

Fourthly, Eliud Kipchoge is hoping to achieve a hat-trick in Paris at the Olympic Games, and running his marathon early in the year will give him plenty of time to prepare for his biggest race of the year.