Benson Kipruto is a man known for timely surges that have led him to decisive marathon victories.
And as he heads to Boston for a third time, Kipruto knows the focus will be on him on and off the course.
"There is pressure, but there is also confidence, because after last year’s win I know I am capable of competing with the best athletes in the world," he told Olympics.com.
The 31-year-old hopes he can unleash his strong finishing kick and pull away from the strong field assembled for the 2022 race on Monday.
The last eight men’s champions are all aiming to make athletics history again on April 18.
The motivation to run began at home
Like many Kenyan athletes, running was a way of life for Kipruto in his home village of Tolilet in Kenya’s vast rift valley.
When he finally opted to pursue long-distance running as a career, young Benson skipped the track and hit the road directly, inspired by his older brother Dickson Chumba’s successes.
Chumba won two of the World Marathon Majors races - 2014 in Tokyo and Chicago in 2015.
And a year later Kipruto won his first race, the Kigali Peace half marathon in Rwanda, and was the runner-up at the 2016 Athens Classic Marathon.
The younger of the brothers took his first marathon victory at the 2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which “opened doors” to his future.
“I was invited to the 2019 Boston Marathon because of Toronto. So my name has grown,” he said in an interview with the organisers for World Athletics.
He finished 10th with his feet badly blistered in his debut run at the famous American race.
His signature kick again over the final 5km underlined his next win in Prague in May 2021, where he beat his brother Chumba to second place.
When he returned to Boston five months later, he was a man on a mission.
After closing the gap on early leader and local favourite CJ Albertson of Fresno around Heartbreak Hill, he made his intentions clear.
Kipruto, who was also seventh at the 2020 London Marathon, took the lead and put in a huge surge for his signature victory in 2 hours 9 minutes 51 seconds. He beat second-placed Lemi Berhanu of Ethiopia by 47 seconds.
Kipruto: I am now among the best athletes in the world
Winning the 2021 Boston Marathon just five years after settling into top-level road racing changed his life.
"It was very special because it was my first World Marathon Majors win and I think when you win a World Marathon Major you are among the best athletes in the world,“ said Kipruto from Kapsabet, where he trains with coach Claudio Berardelli.
In a build-up to the 2022 race, he finished in second place in a half marathon in Guadalajara, Mexico in February.
As the reigning winner aims to do his “best and make his name among those Boston champions that people will remember,” Kipruto knows it will take grit to beat the major contenders.
He's buoyed by his knowledge of the soul-crushing hilly course.
"This year is probably one of the most competitive Boston Marathon ever, this gives me a lot of motivation because a good performance in this year’s race will definitely mean a lot for my career," he continued.
" It will be my third time in Boston and I am very familiar with the environment."
If he tops the podium, Kipruto will become just the fifth Kenyan to win two Boston Marathons.
Robert Cheruiyot won five Boston Marathon titles, Ibrahim Hussein and Cosmas Ndeti were victorious thrice while Moses Tanui won it twice.
Kipruto was the 23rd men's champion from Kenya and the fifth since 2011.