Dominic Ruto To Challenge Field at BLOM BANK Beirut Marathon
Share Button

A podium finish would suit Kenya’s Dominic Ruto Kipngetich just fine when he lines up for the 2017 BLOM Bank Beirut Marathon November 12th. But victory in this IAAF Silver Label race would be even sweeter.


Although the 27 year old Ruto is amongst the fastest in the elite field he is proceeding with caution knowing that in the marathon anything is possible.


rutoEarlier this year, he recorded a new personal best time of 2:09:08 at the Rome International Marathon knocking 20 seconds off his previous best, also recorded in the Italian capital a year earlier. Clearly, he will be in a position to offer defending champion Edwin Kiptoo, a serious challenge on the streets of the Lebanese capital.


“My training for the Beirut marathon has been quite good so far,” Ruto says. “At the beginning of the season I was scheduled to run a marathon in China, in September. But I got a tendon injury and I had to reschedule my plans. Recent workouts have gone well giving me a feeling that I can try to be competitive. I ran an average of 180 kilometers per week.


I am not much aware how competitive Beirut marathon will be this year. I only hope to have my body responding well on that day and, of course, I will try my best. I am not really after any final time but I hope to be competitive enough to finish on the podium.”


Since turning professional Ruto has trained in a group alongside such marathon stalwarts as

Amos Kipruto (2:05:43 personal best), Dickson Chumba a former winner of both the Tokyo and Chicago Marathons and who holds a personal best of 2:04:32, and Evans Chebet (2:05:31), among others. Their sessions are planned and overseen by famed Italian coach Claudio Berardelli. All are managed by agent Gianni DeMadonna.


Like many Kenyan runners Ruto was introduced to running as a school boy. Seeing the elite Kenyan runners training on the rural roads near his home left an impression on him as did seeing the championship races on television.


“I went to Moisirgoit high school in a place called Mosoriot which is 20 kms from Eldoret,” Ruto explains. “During that time we were many running during school competitions but I think I am the only one of that generation who managed to become a professional runner.


“I started training seriously together with Philip Sanga. He is a 2:06 runner now. He is the one who introduced me to the idea of running as a profession.


“When I was young I used to go to the main center to watch races because we didn’t have television at home. I remember being excited watching Martin Lel (a past New York and London marathon winner) and (2008 Olympic champion) Samuel Wanjiru. I use to admire how they could be always very competitive in any race they showed up at.”


As a professional Ruto uses his race earnings to prepare for a future after his running career comes to an end. At the moment he owns about 26 acres of farmland upon which he grows vegetables, especially maize. In addition he has some animals. Earnings from Beirut would be turned into his home and could come at a particularly useful time. He is getting married in December.


“I don’t know much about the Beirut marathon,” he says. “I think it is not really a fast course but I heard it is getting bigger and bigger. I believe winning Beirut marathon might give me a good exposure for my future races.”


This year’s course changes have made the chance for faster times possible. Indeed, the event record of 2:11:04 set in 2015 by fellow Kenyan Jackson Limo would earn a further $3,000 in addition to the winner’s purse of $10,000. Should the victor come in under 2:10 that first place prize climbs to $15,000.


As the BLOM Bank Beirut Marathon grows in popularity, it attracts an even stronger elite field. Dominic Ruto could well be the name on everyone’s lips come November 12th.


by Paul Gains

Eunice Chumba Chasing Beirut Marathon Record
Share Button

If her recent performances are any indication Eunice Chumba will be odds-on favourite to challenge the Blom Bank Beirut Marathon event record when the race kicks off for the 15th year, Sunday November 12th.


The 24 year old Kenyan, who now represents Bahrain, ran a superb personal best time (2:24:27) in Rotterdam April 9 to finish second in this IAAF Gold Label race. Most impressive, however, was her superb victory at the Copenhagen Half Marathon where she knocked almost two minutes off her personal best setting an Asian record of 1:06:11.



Just two weeks ago she shocked most prognosticators with a victory at the Lisbon Half Marathon with a time of 1:08:48. It seems the Beirut event record – 2:29:12 set by Mulahabt Tsega of Ethiopia – and the accompanying bonus is ripe for the picking. Beirut is once again an IAAF Silver Label race.


“I’m ready for it,” Chumba declares with justified confidence.

“It is my first time in Beirut. I don’t know much about it. I just googled Beirut Marathon and learned more, like the course record time. It depends on weather conditions but my aim is to break the course record.”


The winner receives $10,000 USD but if the finishing time is under 2:28:00 that prize goes up to $15,000 USD. An event record pays another $3,000 USD.



With some changes to the course, including the elimination of a 14% grade climb along the Mediterranean Sea coast, which many runners cursed, it should be more likely to see the record fall. Last year’s champion Tigist Girma has already confirmed she will be back in the Lebanese capital to defend her title. This matchup should prove interesting as Chumba is clearly a tougher opponent than the Ethiopian has faced before.


“I was born in the village of Septonok in Nandi County,” says Chumba, “but since August 2014 I have represented Bahrain. I consider this (running for Bahrain) an opportunity because in Kenya there are many athletes with good times compared to Bahrain. Also it was another way round looking for greener pastures.


“My father inspired me to run, he was a runner. He usually encouraged me. For example he used to tell me about (Olympic champion) Eliud Kipchoge and Prisca Jeptoo (a past London and New York winner) because they lived near our village. Because I come from a family where my parents are farmers I hoped one day i would become successful and help my family.”


Although she runs for Bahrain much of her training is completed in Eldoret, Kenya with her husband and some pacemakers under the watchful eye of coach Nicholas Kipkemoi Kirwa. When she is finished training for the day she enjoys reading novels and watching movies two pursuits that allow her adequate recovery.


It is apparent that her intense buildup for the Blom Bank Beirut Marathon is going well. On October 15th she won the Lisbon Half Marathon in 1:08:48.


With time on her side and many more years of running Chumba hopes one day to be ranked amongst the greatest marathoners of all time.

“My target is to run the world record in the half marathon and the marathon,” she says of her ultimate goals. For now she will be content with a victory in Beirut to add to her already impressive curriculum vitae.


By Paul Gains