Inspiration behind Kipchoge's long walk to stardom

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the line to win the Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. [Istockphoto]

Things don’t just happen. They are made to happen. And that clearly captures Eliud Kipchoge’s preparation ahead of well-heeled big city marathons.

Kipchoge’s preparations have always involved a delicate balance of brain and brawn. From his humble background of transporting milk to Kenya Co-operative Creameries (KCC) using a bicycle at his rural home in Kapsisiywa village in Nandi County to his unrivalled reading culture; Kipchoge has no doubt developed a masterclass manual of marathon running.

Sunday, he proved it all – slapping a new marathon world record of 2:01.09 at the Berlin Marathon.

It was no surprise for a man who has the world at his feet. Kipchoge, however, proved a point; that he’s brave like a lion.

Coincidentally, he comes from Talai clan of the Kalenjin community whose totem is a lion. Also i his clan is Koitalel Samoei, the supreme chief of the Nandi, who was killed by British colonialist Richard Meinertzhagen in what ended the Nandi resistance on October 19, 1905.

Two adjectives – bravery and heroism – describe Kipchoge’s drive to excel in marathons.

Kipchoge’s struggle inspires and warms the hearts of budding athletes. He says: “If you don't believe you can run fast, even in the best shoes you can't do it.”

After completing Form Four at Kaptel High School, Kipchoge tried his hand in business.

He started operating a butchery and later opted to buy milk which he transported using his mother’s bicycle to KCC.  

While transporting about 150 litres of milk to KCC, Kipchoge’s bicycle broke down at Kimondi area, some five kilometres away.

He decided to run to his friend Daniel far away to borrow another bicycle. He impressed his peers on the roads who asked him to enter an athletics competition in Kapsabet that weekend.

He borrowed a stopwatch from Patrick Sang, the 1992 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase silver medalist, who is now his coach. Sang offered it, Kipchoge gave it a shot, and the rest is history.

He has won four Olympic medals – two gold, silver and bronze -  and has won 14 of the 16 well-heeled big city marathons he has competed in, as well as basking in 1:59.40 marathon mark at the Ineos Challenge in Vienna, Austria in 2019.

Eliud Kipchoge crosses the line to win the Berlin Marathon in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, September 25, 2022. [AP photo]

Kipchoge borrows from world famed authors and inspirational philosophers in his mission.

He is an avid reader and always chooses the right book for the right task to get into the right frame of mind that will come in handy as he gets immersed in attacking world marathon records.

In 2017, he read Imitation is Limitation and Impossible is Possible by American author John Mason.

As he prepared to attack the world record at the Berlin Marathon in 2018, he read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, the American sports apparel that kits him.

Ahead of the historic Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Kipchoge read 11 Life Lessons from Nelson Mandela by Ndaba Mandela, who is the former South African president’s grandson.

It is still unclear which book inspired him to the world record at the Berlin Marathon yesterday. 

Kipchoge loves a quiet lifestyle. Still, even the familiar Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Eldoret International Airport welcoming parties, complete with government functionaries, ululating friends and relatives, buses decked with twigs and the trademark sip of mursik (sour milk), are too much for Kipchoge.

Kipchoge wishes everyone would just let him sneak quietly back home, even after breaking the world record at Berlin Marathon.

Well, the 38-year-old doesn’t get his wish, but once all the fanfare is over and done with, he retreats to his home in Kapsisywa Village in Nandi County and gets on with his simple life.

Yesterday, he made it four wins at Berlin Marathon, equaling Ethiopia’s multiple record holder Haile Gebrselassie.

At the 2003 World Championships in Paris, the then 18-year-old Kipchoge defeated Kenenisa Bekele and Hicham El Guerrouj. Five years later, Bekele ran away with 5,000m crown at the Beijing Olympic Games.

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