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Martin Lel

[Photo of Martin Lel]

29 October 1978

2:05:15 (London, 2008)


03Nov13 ING New York City Marathon DNF
22Apr12 Virgin London Marathon 2nd 2:06:51
17Apr11 Virgin London Marathon 2nd 2:05:45
24Aug08 Olympic Games Marathon 5th 2:10:24
13Apr08 Flora London Marathon 1st 2:05:15
04Nov07 ING New York City Marathon 1st 2:09:04
22Apr07 Flora London Marathon 1st 2:07:41
23Apr06 Flora London Marathon 2nd 2:06:41
17Apr05 Flora London Marathon 1st 2:07:26
19Apr04 Boston Marathon 3rd 2:13:38
02Nov03 ING New York City Marathon 1st 2:10:30
21Apr03 Boston Marathon 3rd 2:11:11


27Oct02 Venice Marathon 2nd 2:10:02


Martin Lel is arguably the most consistent elite marathoner of the modern day. He has stood on the podium 10 times in World Marathon Majors races, an unprecedented accomplishment in an era of intense global competition.

He ran his first marathon in 2002 at Prague, but after going through the halfway point in 1:04:51 he did not finish. Five months later he placed second at Venice in 2:10:02.

Lel gave early notice of a breakthrough in 2003 when he won the Lisbon Half Marathon in 1:00:10 and had two additional wins at the distance at Virginia Beach and in a sprint finish at the World Championships. A month later he won the ING New York City Marathon.

Exclusively a road runner, he broke the hour barrier with 59:51 for second in 2004 and with 59:42 for fourth in 2005 in the Lisbon Half-Marathon. Six weeks later he took three minutes off his marathon best with a 2:07:26 win in London making his break just after 23 miles.

In 2006 Lel smashed his personal best in the half-marathon by running 59:30 to win the Lisbon Half-Marathon, beating former world-record holder Samuel Wanjiru.

A month later Lel battled Felix Limo through the London course to muscle out a 2:06:41 personal best, but could not shut down Limo who sprinted ahead in the final 200 meters to win by two seconds. Lel also won the Peachtree Road Race 10K on July 4 in 27:25, the second fastest time in the history of that race. In August he won the Memorial Peppe Greco 10-K beating Boston Marathon champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot by 39 seconds.

Following a 28:13 for third at the World's Best 10-K at San Juan in February 2007, Lel returned to London where he prevailed for his second victory there after a dramatic sprint finish. After defeating world-record holder Samuel Wanjiru at the Great North Run Half-Marathon, Lel closed out the year with his second victory at the ING New York City Marathon as he became the first man to win London and New York City in the same year.

At the 2008 Flora London Marathon he produced yet another sensational effort. Lel won his third London title and became the youngest man with five major victories. His 2:05:15 smashed the course record by 23 seconds, and made him the fourth fastest marathoner in history.

After battling injury problems for several years, Lel returned to London in 2011. As a replacement for Sammy Wanjiru, Lel vindicated the organizer's faith with a splendid 2:05:45 second place. A year later he again produced a daunting kick for another second place, one second ahead of Tsegaye Kebede.


Martin Lel (Kiptolo) is coached by Dr. Gabriele Rosa and lives in Kenya's Rift Valley.