|Intro||Kenyan long-distance runner|
4 June 1982, Kenya
Abel Kirui (born 6 April 1982) is a long-distance runner from Kenya who competes in marathons. He had back-to-back wins in the World Championships Marathon in 2009 and 2011. He won in 2009 with a time of 2:06:54, then defended his title with a winning margin of two minutes and 28 seconds – the largest ever margin at the World Championship event. He won a silver medal in the 2012 Olympic marathon.
He has also won the 2016 Chicago Marathon, the 2008 Vienna Marathon and was runner-up at the 2007 Berlin Marathon.
Kirui started running while in Samitui Primary School. After high school, the jobless Kirui entered a recruitment race by Administration Police (AP) the winner of such race would be recruited by AP. Kirui won the race and subsequently joined AP, starting serious training only after then. He entered the 2006 Berlin Marathon as a pacemaker, but finished the race 9th.
He won the 2008 edition of the Vienna Marathon setting a new course record of 2:07:38. He set his personal best (2:06:51) in the classic distance on 30 September 2007 at the Berlin Marathon, where he finished second after Haile Gebrselassie, who set a new marathon world record. The time made Kirui the sixth fastest marathoner in 2007.
He finished third in the 2009 Rotterdam Marathon 2:05:04 after fellow Kenyans Duncan Kibet and James Kwambai, making him the sixth fastest marathoner ever.
He also won the Paderborn Half-Marathon in 2007. On 22 August 2009 he took gold over his teammate Emmanuel Mutai who took silver at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics in Berlin at a record time of 2:06:54.
After the 2009 World Championships, Kirui had many unsuccessful attempts to show the dominance he had shown in his Berlin race: he finished in fifth place at the 2010 London Marathon then failed to finish at the 2011 race. Kirui ran at the Prefontaine Classic track 25K/30K mixed race, hoping to set a new 25k track record. Although he just managed to dip under the previous world record time for the track 25K, he was well beaten by fellow Kenyan and teammate Moses Mosop, who broke both 25K and 30K world records.
He was given the wildcard spot on the Kenyan marathon team as the defending champion at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics. Kirui ran 2:07:38 hours beating out fellow countryman Vincent Kipruto and Ethopian Feyisa Lilesa. This made Kirui the third man to defend the marathon world title, following in the steps of Abel Antón and Jaouad Gharib. He ran over 10 miles at the Great South Run in October and finished as runner-up to Leonard Komon.
Kirui lives at Nabkoi, 2 km east of Kapsabet town. He is married to Stella Jemeli with a son (born 2008). He is coached by Renato Canova (as of 2011). Marathon runner Mike Rotich is his uncle.