(© Getty Images)
The well-known Kenyan distance runner Felix Limo announced his international retirement on Thursday (10), after a top-level career that spanned more than a decade.
Among his achievements were the world's fastest marathon in 2004 and a world record over 15km on the roads.
Now 32, Limo first came to prominence when he ran 27:04.54 for 10,000m for second place at the 2000 Van Damme Memorial meeting in the Belgian capital of Brussels, which is now one of the finals of the IAAF Samsung Diamond League.
However, Limo quickly found that his forte was racing on the roads.
On 11 November 2001, he ran 15km in 41:29 at the Seven Hills Run in the Dutch city of Nijmegen, famously beating Haile Gebrselassie. The time was the inaugural standard for the distance when the IAAF ratified road running world records at the start of 2003 and stood as the best time ever until November 2010.
Limo ran his first marathon in 2003 when he finished second in the Amsterdam Marathon in 2:06:42, at the time the second fastest debut ever.
The following year, he was the fastest man in the world over the classic distance when he won the 2004 Rotterdam Marathon in 2:06:14. Later in 2004, he won the Berlin Marathon in 2:06:44.
Between 2004 and 2006, he won four out of his five marathons, his other victories coming at the 2005 Chicago Marathon and 2006 London Marathon, the latter in 2:06:39.
Although those three years can be considered to be the pinnacle of his career, and he was arguably the number one marathon runner in the world during that period, he remained close to the top of his profession until the end of 2012.
Back pain limits Limo
"At the end of last year, I had some tough decisions to make. I had some back problems which meant I could not train as well as I would have liked, which lead to me dropping out of the Toronto Marathon last October,” reflected Limo.
“In fact, I have had back problems for a number of years. They have never been serious but were the reason why I also dropped out of the Chicago Marathon in 2007 and they have become a little worse in recent years.
“I feel confident I could still run marathons in 2:09 or 2:10 but I can't do the intensity of training that I was able to do seven or eight years ago. I also have to be realistic, those times are not going to get me into the top three of the best marathons these days,” added Limo, with a smile on his face.
“In addition to obviously spending more time with my family, I'm looking forward to being able to devote more of my energies to my business affairs away from athletics as I have interests in real estate, dairy farming and tea plantations.
“However, I will always run, I love the sport. I would like to thank the man most responsible for my success, Patrick Sang, who coached me throughout my career and adidas, who supported me for many years.
“I would also like to thanks all the race organisers I have dealt with over the years. They were very kind and generous to me,” commented Limo.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF