By Paul Gains
Kip Kangogo returns to the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon June 26th in search of his fifth victory in this acclaimed road race.
The Kenyan born resident of Lethbridge, Alberta gained his Canadian citizenship in 2014 and has been a constant in this Canada Running Series race, winning on his debut in 2009 and repeating in 2010 and 2011. After second place to Olympian Reid Coolsaet in 2012 he won for the fourth time in 2013.
Kangogo, a proud Canadian, went on to represent Canada at last summer’s Pan Am Games. When he toes the Vancouver starting line it will be with mixed emotions.
Last month he failed in his bid to meet the Canadian Olympic qualifying standard (2:12:50) at the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon. The warm, muggy conditions also ended any hope of beating his personal best of 2:15:26 which he ran at the 2015 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. That PB came just three months after the Pan Am Games marathon. But the thought of another victory in Vancouver slightly tempers that.
“I think I will be just trying to go for the win,” he reveals. “I don’t know who is in the race. The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon is a good venue for me. I have won it all those times. I think I have run it six times and I have won four. I lost to (2012 Olympians) Reid (Coosaet) and to Dylan Wykes in the other two years.
“When my daughter Emma was born I won this race in 2013 just for her. She was born June 2nd so I said I was going to run a race for her, just to welcome her. I won the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon for her.”
On May 1st of this year, Kangogo became a proud father a second time when his son Roy Bii Kangogo came into the world.
The picturesque course starts on the grounds of the University of British Columbia and traces the Pacific Ocean shoreline to Stanley Park. Having run here so many times, Kangogo is comfortable with choosing the correct tactics to win.
In 2011, he ran 1:03:22 coming near the race record of 1:03:10 which has been held by Kenya’s Patrick Nthwia since 2007. A fifth victory would have additional significance therefore, and he has joked with race director, Clif Cunningham, that if he gave out rings for each title he could possibly fill the fingers on one hand.
“It is a good course because it has everything. It has flats, downhill, uphills, all the challenges that runners face,” he explains. “I know the course really well. I know where there is a hill and I know how to run it.”
The only uncertainty is his level of fitness. For half the Ottawa marathon he was on Olympic qualifying pace but then the heat started affecting him. Despite the conditions, he refused to quit, which would have afforded him the opportunity to save himself for another marathon. Instead he moderated his goal. The Vancouver race will be only four weeks after the marathon.
“I think (my recovery from the Ottawa marathon) was very good,” he reveals. “I took a week off then got back into running. It wasn’t bad. The weather wasn’t the best for running faster so I did the best I could with the weather. I just kept taking fluids and tried to pace myself.
“There was no point to save it. I knew it was the last chance to run the Olympic standard. In one way or another you are going to get it or not. My pacer was on pace until 11km when he dropped out, but we were still on pace. Then I went with one guy from Sudan. By 23km I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I said ‘You know what? The next option is to run just to finish it.’ That was the next reward for me. I knew the standard was gone but after that maybe I can reward myself by just crossing the line with a smile.”
At the age of 36 – he celebrates his 37th birthday on July 20 – Kangogo knows his best days are likely behind him and retirement is on the horizon. Still he is enjoying his running.
“I think I am going to sit down with my wife,” he says of his running future. “My wife is still going to school and I think we will discuss that plan and see what we are going to do going forward. I am still running now. She is still going to school. We will discuss that in the near future.”
The elite field in Vancouver also includes Kenya’s Dancan Kasia, best known for his pacemaking duties at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon as well as Canadian international Rob Watson. The latter had also attempted the Olympic standard earlier this spring at the London Marathon. He finished in 2:18:45 and will be looking to put a spark back into his racing form.
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