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Lessons from Eliud: When your body is saying no, smile, and go on

SPORTS By Jael Mboga | October 12th 2019

Eliud Kipchoge, the marathon world record holder, in Vienna. [Reuters]

It was a smooth start.

But there were moments when even Eliud Kipchoge looked tired.

The green laser guided the runners, with Kipchoge firmly in the middle.

For a good portion of the race, he seemed to maintain the pace.

Ordinarily, athletics is a one-man game, but the Ineos Challenge was anything but a one-man show.

Pace setters described Kipchoge as a career marathoner.

The environment was greatly controlled, from bikers on the sidelines who constantly spoke to the athletes, to the setters who tried speaking to each other, perhaps in a bid to maintain the pace.

They needed to beat the 1h59s record.

By 1 hour and 23 mins into the race, the team was 12 secs within target.

Kipchoge's natural running style is attributed to what commentators described as 'a perfect build'.

Eliud Kipchoge during his attempt to run a marathon in under two hours in Vienna, Austria. [Reuters]

As they approached the 30km mark, Kipchoge had a bit of grimace, expected at this point of the sub-two hour race.

Kipchoge had no competitors, it was a race against time, and history.

It was his shot. It was the time. And he would be successful.

The world's pressure weighed heavily on his shoulders, but in his own words, Kipchoge said 'No human is limited'.

But his feet were like a sewing needle on the tarmac. Up and down, as he ran to make history.

The classic Kipchoge telltale, is a smile. A smile would intimidate competitors, but in this race, it worked for Kipchoge to relax his muscles. He was in pain.

Race organisers tried so hard to make the controlled environment, but one thing, perhaps the only thing that reminded Kipchoge that he had done this before, was the shouting crowd.

Team number 8, the penultimate team, slipped in at the 1.33.06 mark.

It was unclear if they could hear each other through the crowd. But the members said at that moment, they could only but trust the person running next to you.

Kipchoge's wife Grace and her three children Lynn, Griffin and Jordan were in Vienna. It was the first time they came along.

"...he is doing what no human has ever done," she said.

Pacesetter Stanley Kebenei said the race, and the victory, is not for Kenya.

"It's about inspiring ... nothing is limited for you."

Eliud Kipchoge, the marathon world record holder, in Vienna. [Reuters]

With just over 7km left, Kipchoge's body was telling him to stop, but he wouldn't be him if he did.

Winning would not be setting a new world record.

The race was about stretching the human limit.

At the 1h 41 50s mark, the Kenyan flags were high in Vienna.

Their son was making history in a foreign land.

Bernard Lagat, 44, was the oldest member of the team.

He had run alongside Kipchoge before.

Lagat was the team captain in the last leg.

Fans were on trees and portable loos to see Kipchoge in his element - the master was at work.

The subcar peeled away at 41km.

Then it was the pacers, who peeled off 1km to the finish line.

It was Kipchoge's turn to sprint the rest of the 500m.

In the final 40 seconds, he stormed into the history books.

At 1h 59m 40s, Kipchoge proved that indeed, no human is limited.

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