10 reasons why Eliud Kipchoge is the best marathoner of all time


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Eliud Kipchoge’s historic under two-hour marathon in Vienna in October 2019 is rightly famous. But a new documentary film – Kipchoge: the last milestone – shows the inner story of the preparation of the Olympic champion until this extraordinary day. With unprecedented access to the world record holder in the marathon and his team, the film follows Kipchoge from his training camp in Kenya in the months leading up to the event and takes a personal look at the athlete, including including interviews with relatives and details of his daily rituals. Here are 10 things we learned from watching it.

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1 his childhood formed his motivation

Born the youngest of four children in Kapsisiywa in the Nandi district of the highlands of Kenya, Kipchoge has no memory of his father, who died when he was very young. Kipchoge and his siblings were brought up by his mother, a teacher. In the documentary, he recounts how he was aware that fatherless children were not valued in Kenyan society and how he wanted to be successful in order to help his family. Her mother was strict and taught her the value of hard work and self-discipline, which are now hallmarks of her career. Kipchoge’s first job was to collect the inhabitants’ milk and cycle it for 20 km to the town of Kapsabet. He was paid one Kenyan shilling (0.67 pence) per liter. He saved five months to buy his first pair of running shoes.

2 He has a very high pain tolerance

At the start of the film, Kipchoge says, “The way you think about pain is the way your life will be. You have to go through the pain to be successful. He was born in the Kalenjin tribe of Kenya and mentions that as part of their culture, Kalenjin boys are cultivated to resist pain early in life, via initiation ceremonies, a rite of passage that involves enduring pain. pain. Although he does not go into details in the film, reports of versions of Kalenjin initiation rites mention that initiates have to crawl through nettles, be circumcised and have mud on their faces, which ‘we let it dry. If a crack appears in the mud – you wince or your cheeks tighten – the initiate is labeled a coward and then stigmatized by the community. Such tests of ability to endure pain are a useful basis for a sport such as marathon running, where resistance to pain is fundamental to success. Kipchoge’s pain threshold is notoriously high – he smiles rather than wince when the going gets tough during races. In the movie, he is seen smiling through the ultimate runner’s pain ritual – the ice bath.

3 he was inspired to run by his trainer

The strength of Kipchoge’s relationship with his trainer, Patrick Sang, shines through in the film – Kipchoge says he was originally inspired to take up running due to Sang’s career as a elite. As a child, young Kipchoge would gather with friends around a black and white television to watch Sang compete – he won silver in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, when Kipchoge was seven years old. In 2002, Sang had become a trainer; Kipchoge sought him out and asked for a two week workout plan, then came back for another, and a lifelong relationship was born. Sang has been the architect ever since and Kipchoge undoubtedly follows his designs: early morning track training; the long trails on the edge of the Rift Valley; weeks spent at training camp away from his wife and children. Kipchoge implicitly trusts Sang and it is the cornerstone of their success.

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4 Humility is a core belief

Although he is a famous and immensely famous athlete, whose achievements have made him very wealthy, Kipchoge still leads an ordinary lifestyle. The film shows him preparing for the under-two attempt at his training camp in the small town of Kaptagat in the highlands of Kenya. “Life in the camp is free from distractions and for me it’s the perfect training environment,” says Kipchoge. “The accommodation is basic, but it has everything I need. The camp accommodates about thirty athletes at a time. Male runners sleep two per room in the main building, while a second building houses the female dormitories as well as a TV room and physiotherapy room. A small kitchen and dining room are located at the rear of the camp, and the athletes do the chores themselves. There are few distractions beyond training, eating, resting, rehearsing. Kipchoge embraces the calm of the camp and has no airs and graces, getting involved in daily chores and spending his free time reading books.

5 he harnesses the power of the group

Even though he’s on another level as an athlete, Kipchoge is the quintessential team player – group training is critical to his success. Kipchoge manager Valentijn Trouw says: “He turns an individual sport into a team sport. Kipchoge said: “100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the whole team. He inspires those around him and sets an example. Kipchoge and his training partners push each other in training and spend the time between workouts recovering together – there is a deep sense of camaraderie between them. This means that there is a feeling of pleasure in the sessions even when training is difficult, and having this harmonious training environment reduces stress.

6 Its purpose is a manual

Rather than being in awe of the scale of the challenge of breaking through the two hour barrier, Kipchoge has broken it down into mini goals. “When you go up the tree, you go up branch by branch,” he said. “You manipulate each branch to test the strength, then you go up. From that perspective, his accomplishments in the two years leading up to the 1:59 challenge – running 2:00:25 in Monza, Italy, in his first attempt to break two hours in 2017; set a world marathon record of 2:01:39 in September 2018, and set a course record of 2:02:37 at the London Marathon in April 2019, six months before his second sub-two attempt – can all be seen as incremental boost his confidence as he prepared to achieve the impossible.

7 his state of mind is key

Sir Dave Brailsford, team leader of the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team and performance director of the 1:59 project, says that Kipchoge has “incredible physiology, incredible efficiency and an absolutely incredible mind”. He draws attention to Kipchoge’s “zen calm” and the way he enters an almost meditative state when training and competing. Kipchoge said: “I always say that I don’t run by my legs, but I run by heart and by spirit. If your mind is calm and focused, then the whole body is in control. This impressive strength of mind was also crucial outside of the running environment – before and after the 1:59 attempt, there was controversy regarding the level of assistance provided by his Nike carbon-soled shoes, but Kipchoge is not distracted by the background noise and focused on his goal.

8 he learns from failure

Kipchoge says, “Failure is part of life, you have to learn from it. Rather than being deflated by narrowly failing to cross the two-hour barrier at Monza, it became a valuable lesson. Jos Hermens, CEO of Kipchoge’s management company, Global Sports Management, said they identified three key factors that they did not fully understand: Kipchoge was not consuming enough carbohydrates; the weather, slightly humid after light rains, was not ideal; there were no crowds to roar the athletes when the going got tough. They corrected all these factors in Vienna – its average temperature in October was cool 10 ° C with low humidity, the downtown route was easily accessible to spectators, and a person was employed to pick up the discarded drink bottles from Kipchoge, which were then weighed to calculate exactly how many carbs he had consumed, meaning his team could adjust the carb ratios of the remaining bottles.

9 he didn’t sleep well the day before Vienna

While it might be an exaggeration to say that Kipchoge was feeling nervous ahead of the under-two attempt in Vienna (he says he felt calm in the preparation because all of his preparation went according to plan), he admits that he didn’t sleep well the night before. He woke up at 2 a.m., dozed off for the next two hours, before waking up fully at 4:40 a.m. It’s reassuring to know that the best marathon runner in history feels the same pre-race hustle and bustle that everyday runners do, and it proves the old adage that you don’t have to get a good sleep the night before. ‘a marathon to perform well.

eliud kipchoge the only human to break two hours for the marathon

Bob Martin for the INEOS 1:59 challenge

10 he thinks running is a metaphor for life

Kipchoge is keen to extend the importance of the under-two race beyond the fact that it is simply an incredible feat of endurance racing. The phrase “no human is limited” has become the motto of the attempt and the guiding philosophy of Kipchoge, and he wants his legacy to be as historic and as symbolic of humanity’s potential as the ascension of the Everest, crossing the four-minute mile or landing on the moon. “The reason for running 1:59 is not performance,” says Kipchoge. ‘This is to tell this farmer that he is not limited, to this teacher that she can produce good results at school…’ Whether in the race or in life, his message is that if you work hard, block negative voices, and stay focused on the goal, great things can happen.

Kipchoge: the last milestone is now available on digital platforms

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