Road Racing Legend Joseph Kimani Dies

Nearly a decade after retirement, many of his course records still stand

Joseph Kimani, one of the most successful Kenyan road racers of the 1990s, who still holds event records, at marquee races like the Vancouver Sun Run and Peachtree Road Race, has died.  According to his management company, Kimbia Athletics, Kimani died on Nov. 1 of pneumonia.  He was 40, and was buried in Eldoret, Kenya last week.

While a solid performer on the track, with personal bests of 13:12.05 for 5000m and 27:28.07 for 10,000m, Kimani found his true calling on the roads. In his legendary 1996 season, Kimani won the Vancouver Sun Run 10-K (27:31 CR), Sallie Mae 10-K (28:01), Revco-Cleveland 10-K (27:20 WR), Peachtree Road Race 10-K (27:04 CR), Utica Boilermaker 15-K (42:40 CR), George Sheehan Classic 10-K (28:10 CR) and Falmouth Road Race 7-Mile (31:36 CR). Six of those course records have never been broken.

"[Joseph] has to be considered one of the best road racers of all time," his long-time agent Tom Ratcliffe said in a statement.

While Kimani's 10-K world record set in Cleveland was broken by Sammy Kipketer in 2001, his 33:31 world best at 12-K in Evansville, IN, in 1997 is still tied as the fastest ever at the distance (point-to-point course). He would also win Peachtree in 1997; the Azalea Trail Run 10-K in 1995 (27:41 CR), '97 and '99; Cooper River Bridge Run 10-K in 1995 (27:49 CR); Bay to Breakers 12-K in 1997; Bolder Boulder 10-K in 2000; Beach to Beacon 10-K in 2000; and Bellin Run 10-K in 1997 (27:46 CR), '98, '99, and '00.

Kimani last competed in 2003, one day before his 31st birthday. Although he ran several half-marathons (best of 60:04 in Lisboa in 1998), he never ran a marathon.