Talkative, intelligent and engaging, 29-year-old Mutai is one of young Kenyan marathoners who took up road running at a relatively young age. The first born in a family of six (four boys, two girls), he started running while attending Cheptigit and Koisagat primary schools.Emmanuel Kipchirchir Mutai grew up in Tulwet, a village near Kericho in the Rift Valley Province, and his extended family includes Richard Limo, the 2001 World Champion over 5000 metres. Mutai began to make an impact domestically at the age of eighteen in 2001, taking third place over 10,000 metres at the Rift North Province Championships in 28:09.2 minutes.
2007 would be a breakthrough for the athlete as he stepped up his career. He started with fifth place at the Lisbon Half Marathon (60:51) in March. The following month, Mutai completed his first Marathon almost by default. Drafted in as a pacemaker in Rotterdam Marathon, he decided to give it a go and ended up finishing seventh (2:13:06). In September, he was back in Lisbon for a Half Marathon, winning in 61:54. On 21 October, Mutai lined up for only his second Marathon, in Amsterdam, and made a massive step up, winning in 2:06:29.
His exploits in Amsterdam earned him an invitation to the 2008 London Marathon, widely regarded as the crème de la crème of Marathon races. He prepared by setting a Personnal Best for 20km (57:33) in Alphen aan den Rijn, in the Netherlands, in March.
His stairway to the top of the pile began taking shape when he fulfilled his childhood dream by lining up in the red, green and black strip of his nation at the Berlin World Championships on 22 August, 2009. There, despite falling sick in the closing stages of the race, Mutai came across the line in 2:07:48 for silver, also under the previous Championship record to complete the first ever Kenyan 1-2 at a major event with Abel Kirui taking the gold. He set a half marathon best at the end of the year, running 1:00:39 for second place behind Silas Sang at the Portugal Half Marathon.
After fulfilling his podium dream, Mutai competed in Lisbon (October 4) to conclude his season where he raced his Half Marathon Seasonal Best of 60:39. In 2010, Mutai enhanced his reputation as the perpetual bridesmaid after following his Berlin silver with successive second finishes at the marathons of London Seasonal Best; (2:06:23) in April and New York (2:09:18) in November. A third finish in Lisbon in 60:03 in March accounted for his Seasonal Best in the half in yet another commendable campaign.
At the turn of 2011, he managed to erase 30 seconds off the previous 2:05:10 route best ran by Wanjiru in 2009 besides clocking the seventh fastest time in history (at 15 June 2012). However, he was one of the elite runners who turned down the Daegu ticket to focus on the fall marathon season and his gamble paid off when he struck the WMM jackpot in November with a brilliant second half recovery from fourth place at 36km to second place at the tape. Mutai’s New York performance was preceded by a personal best run in the Great North Run half marathon 59:52 (September 18) to place third behind compatriots Martin Mathathi and Jonathan Maiyo.
In 2012 he had made the Kenyan London Olympics probable squad of six selected by Athletics Kenya in January. Makau, namesake Mutai, Kirui, Moses Mosop and Wilson Kipsang.
Mutai has won 5 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze medals in his career as an athlete.