The streets of Eldoret are paved with gold medallists. “Kipchoge Keino, Moses Tanui, Moses Kiptanui, Patrick Sang, Eliud Kipchoge, and many, many more. Eliud is my neighbour…” This is Bernard Barmasai speaking, of his home town. Because Eldoret, in the western highlands of Kenya is the heartland of the country’s distance running success. Barmasai is another of those golden boys, and the former World record holder for the 3000m Steeplechase intends to bring a bit of that lustre to the Dresdner Kleinwort Frankfurt Marathon on Sunday.
As it happens, since Kenyans are particularly thick on the ground in marathon races, Barmasai is not the only former Steeplechase World record holder running here in Frankfurt. Wilson Boit Kipketer, the man who preceded him on the record lists is also here. But like with his revision of Boit Kipketer’s record, Barmasai has proved the more adept marathoner so far.
It’s over a decade since Baramasai set his World record, but he took the biggest slice off the mark in years. Boit Kipketer had broken the record of another Kenyan ‘great’, Moses Kiptanui, with 7:59.08 in Zurich in mid-August 1997. But that record lasted just 11 days, before Barmasai tore it apart, with a 7:55.72 in Cologne.