Kenyan star Dickson Chumba has targeted a number of records at next month's Toronto Marathon, and feels his training camp has set him up perfectly to achieve just that.
Tucked away 35km southwest of Eldoret lies the town of Kapsabet, home to 2 Running Club where Chumba lives and train with 2016 Rome Marathon and 2017 Seoul Marathon victor Amos Kipruto, 2016 Paris Marathon champion Cyprian Kotut, and Evans Chebet to mention a few.
The 30-year-old's quality performances over the last three years have been outstanding, with him winning multiple marathons and bagging podium finishes in Chicago and Tokyo. After clocking 2:06.25 for third place in the Tokyo Marathon this year, the 11th-ranked athlete in the world marathon standings has now targeted the course (2:07.05) and all-comers records (2:06.54) in Toronto on October 22.
"The season was not bad; I have trained very well despite having a setback that was a injury just after Tokyo," he told KweséESPN. "I have fully recovered, I'm going to Toronto now to attempt to break the course record, maybe return a 2:05 or 2:06. If the weather is good, the former will be the time and I also hope to get good pacemakers to assist me in my personal mission.
"I feel very good and ready. I understand this race is not as difficult as some I have been to, and all I want do is to carry the day. I have not heard of the names that will be there, but I am not afraid of anyone who will line up against me on that day. In the event I win this race, I know it will help me to be in the next majors, maybe Tokyo or London, of that I am sure."
Chumba also assessed his club, 2 Running Club group, guided by Italian coach Claudio Berardelli: "You know our club has very good athletes who have also performed well, like Amos Kipruto, Solomon Yego and Barselius Kipyego to mention a few, and when I'm with them in training I know I am okay since the teamwork is good. I know that our camp will be on top next year in terms of performance.
"Also instrumental in my training has been my coach Claudio. If he tells me do this, I do it; do that, I do that. I can only follow what he says and that is what I do instead of coming up with my own notion.
"A coach is more like a parent; he looks out for your best [interests] compared to someone else who you don't know in terms of telling you what to do and where to go."
For an established athlete with his own residence as well as businesses, the simplicity of staying in camp for a duration of time during the season seems a top priority for a number of reasons.
"When we stay here the level of discipline in training is high and we talk amongst ourselves, which helps," Chumba continues. "In the evening we have chats on our upcoming races and strategise our performances on how good we want them to be. We encourage each other because we don't want to come home empty-handed after the race."
Last year's race was won by a Kenyan in Philemon Rono, and it will be a brave man who bets against Chumba flying the flag again.