Kenyan superstar Eliud Kipchoge is the world record-holder and Olympic champion in the marathon.
In October, he made history and captured the world’s imagination by running the first sub-two-hour marathon.
He shared his advice with you about staying strong during the COVID-19 pandemic in an exclusive Athlete365 webinar.
Eliud Kipchoge’s name is one that will forever be cemented in running folklore after what he achieved on 12 October 2019.
On that cool morning in Vienna (Austria), the Kenyan became the first athlete to run a marathon in less than two hours, breaking a barrier previously considered beyond the limits of human potential.
Eliud was gearing up for Tokyo 2020 and a defence of his marathon title this summer before the coronavirus pandemic struck, but you sense it won’t affect the gold medal prospects of the 35-year-old, whose career has been characterised by patience, consistency and hard work.
From track champion to road legend
Like many of Kenya’s most successful marathoners, Eliud was a world-class runner on the track before his transition to the road. After becoming 5,000m world champion in 2003, he reached the Olympic podium over the same distance in Athens and Beijing but suffered a hamstring injury while preparing for London 2012 and subsequently failed to qualify in a strong Kenyan team. However, some of the best lessons are learned from disappointment, and the setback convinced Eliud to switch to the road the following season – an inspired decision from which he hasn’t looked back.
Since then, Eliud has won an astonishing 11 out of the 12 marathons he has entered. In 2016 he had a breakthrough year, setting a course record in the London Marathon before capturing that elusive Olympic gold medal with a dominant performance in Rio de Janeiro – the largest margin of victory at the Games for 44 years.
While Eliud’s sub-two-hour run in Vienna didn’t fulfil the criteria to break his own world record of 2:01.39 (set in Berlin in 2018) due to the controlled race conditions and use of rotating pacemakers, it fuelled belief that the landmark would one day be broken.
I’M AN ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE. AND AT SUCH TIMES WE NEED TO CHANGE.
“At such times we need to change”
Whether or not Eliud is the athlete who gets that official sub-two-hour time, he has both lifted and transcended the sport and will cement his legacy further still if he fulfills his ambition to regain his Olympic title in Japan next year. He will continue to train six days a week in the remote village of Kaptagan, 8,000m above sea level, where he clocks 100-mile weeks under the supervision of his long-time coach Patrick Sang. The goals have been reset, but the work ethic won’t change for a humble icon whose secret is his consistency; he has reportedly never missed a training session.
“These are really strange times in sport in general, and especially for us runners who were already in very good shape. At this time, every other weekend the top cities would be staging the big city marathons,” he told the Olympic Channel when asked for his reaction to Tokyo 2020 being postponed.
“The first time it was shocking, and it did not sink in well, but after some time I convinced my mind to accept the change,” he said. “I’m an advocate for change. And at such times we need to change.”