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SPORTS

Geoffrey Kamworor sets sights on becoming marathon maestro

ATHLETICS By World Athletics | November 23rd 2021

 

Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya celebrates after crossing the finish line to win the New York City Marathon in Central Park in New York, U.S., November 5, 2017. [Reuters, Brendan McDermid]

Geoffrey Kamworor is one of the world’s most versatile distance runners.

The Kenyan has won global medals on the track, earned three consecutive gold medals at the World Half Marathon Championships and is a back-to-back winner of the world cross-country title.

The 28-year-old has contested nine marathons to date, earning two New York City victories along the way, while splitting his focus on track, cross-country and the half marathon.

But Kamworor is now ready to make a concerted effort at the classic distance, starting with the Trinidad Alfonso EDP Valencia Marathon on December 5.

How did you get into running?

Geoffrey Kamworor: Running is something that came naturally to me as it was part of our lifestyle from a young age. I used to run 3km from home to my school and back again each day. Sometimes I’d end up running 12km without really realising it.

As a child, I’d often go and watch athletics competition when not in school. Watching people compete and win trophies ignited my passion for running.

How would you describe your relationship with Patrick Sang?

GK: My relationship with Patrick is great and goes beyond just being a coach. Patrick is my mentor; someone I admire who is always there to assist us if needed and, of course, someone who is always happy when he sees that you prosper and are doing well. He always gives so much of his time to make you the best version of yourself and to make you stronger. He has been my coach ever since I started running, and he has adjusted my training programme as I’ve evolved from being a cross country runner to a track runner and now a road runner.

How is life at the camp?

GK: I joined the camp in 2010 and life there is very good. You are away from your family, your wife and your children for a whole week, which makes you take your training very seriously as you are making sacrifices to achieve your goals. That’s the only way to be focused 100% on running and to give your very best.

How are you doing in your recovery from the road accident last year?

GK: I am doing great and recovering well from the accident last year. It took a lot of time but now I am healed.

When the pandemic came, our preparation, training and access to facilities were affected and we had to follow the government’s rules and restrictions. Each athlete had to train on their own, but at least we were able to share our training programme and discuss with the coach and the rest of the training group via WhatsApp.

Were you worried it could have ended your career?

GK: Of course. But when I was seen by the doctor after the operation, he ensured me I would come back and would be okay. Despite missing many competitions in 2020, I managed to make it on to the national team by producing the fastest ever 10,000m time on Kenyan soil, and my shape was great all the way up to the Olympics.

It was a disappointment not to make it to the Games after running so well in training. I felt like I was really in a position to fight for a medal in Tokyo, but injuries are part of the sport and I’ve still got time to achieve other great things in the near future.

I’m definitely stronger as a result of the accident. It was a challenge for sure, but it made me the athlete I am today while also giving me a lot of additional motivation.

Your next race is the Valencia Marathon on December 5. What’s your target for that race?

GK: I am really looking forward to being on the startline in Valencia, where I won the 2018 world half marathon title. It’s a city where people love running and sports in general. Many world records have been set in Valencia in recent years, and this city of sports is waiting for its first world marathon record.

I have big dreams and ambitions in the marathon and want to run as fast as possible and break barriers. Valencia will be ready to help us push our limits on race day and I am sure it will be amazing.

Is the New York City Marathon your favourite race?

GK: It will always be my favourite race. In my four appearances there, I have won twice and finished second. I’m very familiar with the course and I love it when you reach the finish near Central Park with the trees, the buildings and the crowd.

Do you consider a major marathon victory as valuable as a championship win?

GK: I prefer championships, as they bring the whole world together with people from so many different countries. Winning in a world championship is something very special which makes you feel proud.

What are your goals for 2022?

GK: I don’t have any confirmed plan for 2022, but the World Athletics Championships in Oregon is in my sights and I’d like to run the marathon there.

What is your favourite training session?

GK: On average we do 30km a day and about 200-210km a week. I love long runs where we work together as team, assisting each other if ever we experience tough situations. It’s something that really tests your fitness level. I also love the track sessions, where again we work as a team and push each other. It feels amazing.

What do you do during your time off?

GK: When I’m not training, I spend a lot of time with my wife and family. I have five children, and the youngest three are triplets, who are one-and-a-half years old. We usually go to the farm, visit our parents, or go for a holiday with the kids before resuming training.

Who would you say are the best long-distance runners in history?

GK: Eliud (Kipchoge) is up there with other runners such as Haile Gebrselassie, Paul Tergat and Kenenisa Bekele. And hopefully me soon!

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