Kipchoge and Hassan take on Tokyo Marathon

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Vital clues as both champs prepare for Paris

Watching Eliud Kipchoge run is a treat, typically a two-hour masterclass in marathoning. This coming Sunday, the 39-year-old double Olympic champion returns to the Tokyo Marathon. After he won the event in 2022, what should we expect from Kipchoge this time around?

As the 2:02:40 course record holder, Kipchoge is returning to somewhere safe to best prepare for what may be the final peak of his career: the Paris Olympic Games. He won gold in Rio in 2016 and Tokyo in 2021, but no athlete has won three Olympic marathons.

RK 01320

I frame Tokyo as “safe” for Kipchoge in the sense that after the difficulties of Boston 2023, where he placed sixth, a return to a fast, flat course – and the win – followed at the Berlin Marathon. In Tokyo, Kipchoge will be aiming to put a speedy time on the board while testing his form and fitness.

If you were to take Kipchoge’s 10 best marathon performances, you’re left with an average time of 2:02:58. The champion is synonymous with philosophical post-race quotes and a late-race grin; he makes it look easy, but we should remind ourselves that he’ll line up on Sunday in search of his 12th World Marathon Major victory.

Berlin Marathon 24 09 2023 Christian Brecheis-8750-2

Looking to spoil Kipchoge’s day are 11 sub-2:05 men. Vincent Kipkemoi was second on debut in Berlin in 2023 (2:03:13), Benson Kipruto (2:04:02, Chicago 2023) won Chicago in 2022 and finished third in beating Kipchoge in Boston last year. The 2023 Tokyo marathon winner Chalu Deso (Ethiopia, 2:04:53 Valencia 2020) returns to defend his title, joined by the 2023 World Champion, NN Running teammate Victor Kiplangat (Uganda, 2:05:09 Hamburg 2022).


The women’s race features the track-to-marathon enigma Sifan Hassan (Netherlands, 2:13:44 Chicago 2023). Following her 2023 wins with her 42km debut at London and then again in Chicago, Hassan’s result on Sunday might clarify her plans for Paris. If her brief marathon career to date has taught us anything, it’s that she can be a little unconventional (mid-London Marathon stretching sessions, 180-degree turns to collect water bottles) – but there’s no questions she knows full well how to win a race.


Tokyo’s weather forecast for the weekend is cool and clear, and Hassan will be joined by world champion Amane Shankule (Ethiopia, 2:14:58 Valencia 2022), and Tokyo’s defending champion Rosemary Wanjiru (Kenya, 2:16:28 Tokyo 2023). The women’s field has plenty of depth, with 2020 Tokyo Marathon winner Lonah Salpeter (Israel, 2:17:45 Tokyo 2020), Tigist Abeyachew (Ethiopia, 2:18:03 Berlin 2022) and Sutume Kebede (Ethiopia, 2:18:12 Seoul 2022) all likely to feature in the lead pack.

Lastly, if you’re looking for Australian athletes at Tokyo, keep an eye out for the elite wheelchair race broadcast; the only green-and-gold representatives in Tokyo will be Paralympic gold medallist Madison De Rozario (1:38:51, London 2023) and Paralympian Jake Lappin (1:31:17, Berlin 2023).

Berlin Marathon 24 09 2023 Christian Brecheis-8141


Live streaming. Nippon TV will broadcast the race globally with Brett Larner commentating the English language stream. Streaming options include:
Nippon TV

Japan Running News has published a detailed preview including Japanese athletes to look out for – and will anyone pinch Suguru Osako’s Olympic marathon team slot with a run under 2:05:51?

Photo credits: Kipchoge at Berlin Marathon 2023, Christian Brecheis; Hassan at Chicago Marathon 2023, Kevin Gunawan; Tokyo Marathon 2018, RK.

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