Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Eliud Kipchoge, the ‘alien’ of the marathon

Dethroned by 34 seconds, Eliud Kipchoge landed in Asturias to be welcomed as the new Prince of Sports. The one who until now was designated as the absolute monarch of the marathon, lost a few days ago his status as the fastest in history in the 42 kilometers in favor of another Kenyan, Kelvin Kiptumwho just a couple of weeks ago in Chicago lowered the world record Kipchoge to place it 35 seconds from two hours.

In any case, Eliud Kipchoge’s overwhelming sporting record and outstanding personality were timely and deservedly recognized by the Princess of Asturias Foundation this friday in Oviedo, where he also went to participate in a popular 15-minute race in Campo de San Francisco. Kipchoge received the prize along with another marathoner, the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. The first awarded for his numbers, the second for his letters.

“Running is not just a physical movement, it is a vehicle that has the power to unite us and where the origins or color of your skin do not matter,” explained the Kenyan athlete in his acceptance speech. “I always say that we must make our world a world that runs. Because a world that runs is a happy world. And a happy world is a world at peace.”

The meeting in the third phase between the writer runner and the marathon “extraterrestrial” sounds like a stellar conjunction. Murakami, who claims not to be able to write without his jogging diary, is the author of “What do I talk about when I talk about running”, a kind of metaphysical guide for runners in which he tells of his traumatic experience among the plain of Marathon and Athens, “running alone and overwhelmed by the heat and the dogs crushed on the asphalt like pizzas.” “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” she writes and repeats like a mantra to improve herself.

Kipchoge, at the moment of receiving the award from Princess Leonor. EFE

Like a good teacher’s son, Kipchoge He also dedicates time to reading and expanding the library he maintains in his training center. Kaptagat. At 38 years old, he continues to shine as an example and model of athletic progression. His first results in cross country already projected a promising future. The title of world cross country champion in the junior category elevated him among the elite starting in the new millennium. After two decades among the best, since his victory in the 5,000 final of the 2003 World Cup in Paris, defeating Hicham El Gerruj and Kenenisa Bekele at just 18 years old, Kipchoge accumulates two Olympic gold medals in marathon, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020-21, and two world records, in 2018 and 2022 on the circuit of Berlin.

It recently marked four years since “The philosopher”– just as they nickname Eliud his training partners – ran the first sub two hours in the history of the marathon. Hares and supplies on the march prevented the Kenyan’s 1:59:40 hours in the Prater of the Austrian capital were officially recognized by the International Federation (WA). Although he made it clear that in an environment in which masterfully technical teamwork prevails, “human beings are not limited,” according to his own mantra, which has become an advertising decoy.

Kipchoge vs. Kiptum

Kipchoge’s prolific career on any surface has little to do with the brief but intense emergence on the asphalt of Kiptum and his rush to succeed. His volcanic talent has catapulted him straight from the endless ferralite slopes of the Rift Valley to the fabric of large cities. It pays off because the prizes on the road are greater.

At 23 years old, he has just graduated with three marathons in a row, adding bonuses that exceed half a million euros in just 11 months after debuting in Valencia, last December, which won with a time of seven seconds under 2.02 hours. In London last April, she was 16 seconds away from the world record. Kipchoge (2.01.09). And in Chicago, a couple of weeks ago, he ended up shattering the record by more than half a minute. Three races, three victories in major marathons and a universal record in less than a year.

For a duel on the asphalt between the two Kenyans, who share a sponsor, million-dollar offers are already circulating from several cities, including some in Spain. Kipchoge is aware of the enormous challenge at the end of his sporting career if he wants to achieve his third Olympic gold in Paris 2024 facing an athlete 15 years younger and whose only rival seems to be himself and his stopwatch.


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