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Meet the man who saved Kenyan blushes in London

By Jonathan Komen | October 5th 2020

Vincent Kipchumba, who finished second at the 40th London Marathon yesterday, has come a long way.

While a young boy at Chepkatet village, Kipchumba could see airplanes take off and land at the airport. He harboured a lofty dream: that one day he would board a plane and enjoy the feel of air travel. It came to pass.

He also watched his neighbours in 2012 Olympic 3000m bronze medalist Abel Mutai, 2010 Africa 10000m champion Wilson Kiprop and 2006 London Marathon winner Felix Limo compete in well-heeled big city marathons. By and by, he got inspired into athletics and never looked back.

He trains under Italian coach Claudio Berrardeli of 2Running Club in Kapsabet.

With his insatiable hunger for victory, Kipchumba tried his luck training in different parts of the North Rift. He later opted to settle on Kapsabet.

Kipchumba got a breakthrough last year when he won the Amsterdam Marathon, which saw organisers of London Marathon invite him.

He lined up in the First Lady Half Marathon, which he used as a dress rehearsal for the London Marathon, and won it.

But the Covid-19 pandemic saw the race postponed to October 4. Knowing too well that he could line up against Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, world’s second-best marathoner, Kipchumba gathered courage and trained hard.

He stayed at his rural home and forced a training programme that Berardeli sent him through WhatsApp.

Kipchumba stuck to the programme while, at the same time farming.

Kipchumba won Vienna City Marathon in 2:06:56 last year before running away with the Amsterdam Marathon crown – a World Athletics Gold Label Race.

Yesterday, he made his debut in a World Marathon Majors (WMM) series race. The WMM series races include Boston, New York, London, Chicago, Berlin, Tokyo, Olympic Games and the World Athletics Championships marathon race.

His brilliant performance was no surprise since some athletics analysts had predicted that a dark horse could win the race.

Dr Kipchumba Byron, a Kinesiology and sports management expert, said Kipchumba’s good showing is a wake-up call to coaches. “Kipchumba’s coach should now prepare him early enough for future races. Preparing is not only to win but how to handle the intense pressure in big city marathons.

“The coach must know that Kipchumba is a raw talent. Look at the physique, the strides and all. He has what it takes to rule big marathons in future.

“We have a tendency of over-relying on elites. When Bekele pulled out, it left the contest somehow open. I wish Kipchumba could have sprinted with 1000 metres to go,” said Dr Kipchumba.

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