Marathon: Kipchoge wants to run 'beautiful race' for the people at Olympic qualifier amid 'tough times'

Eliud Kipchoge is the first man to run a marathon under two hours.
Eliud Kipchoge is the first man to run a marathon under two hours.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Eliud Kipchoge has three Olympic medals, holds the marathon world record and has won eight out of 10 World Marathon Majors races he has competed in.

He is the first man to run a marathon under two hours, a feat he completed in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna in 2019.

But the greatest reward he has gained from the sport is perseverance, said the reigning Olympic marathon champion on Friday (April 16).

He said: "Running marathons has taught me that if you believe and have faith in yourself, you can be successful.

"It has informed me that if you set a goal and believe in that goal, you can go on without any problems. So it's like life.

"It's built me and told me this is the wrong route and right route and above all, it taught me that life has ups and downs."

Kipchoge, 36, was speaking at a virtual press conference hosted by professional outfit the NN Running Team ahead of the NN Mission Marathon on April 18.

The event, a Tokyo Olympics qualifier, is a closed-door race in Enschede, the Netherlands. It was originally scheduled to take place on April 11 in Hamburg, Germany but was postponed for coronavirus-related reasons.

While he said winning and hitting specific times are important in what will be his first race since last October's London Marathon where he finished eighth, Kipchoge just hopes to run a "beautiful race" that people will enjoy.

"We're in tough times because of the pandemic so I want to run a beautiful race and show the world that we're in a huge transition towards our future," said the Kenyan, adding that his love of the sport, and wanting to inspire the next generation, keep him going.

While Kipchoge admitted he has had to learn to race without fans, he said the race will be crucial in his preparations for the Olympic marathon on Aug 8 in Sapporo.

He said: "I trust that this is the best time to test your shape and this is the best race to test myself with 70 other athletes trying their best to qualify. This is an important race.

"Covid-19 actually destroyed everything. It destabilised training and our lives and now we have to train in small groups and compete without fans.

"The beauty of running is to enjoy it and have as many people as possible but this pandemic pushed everyone out and I'm learning to run without fans."

On other things he learnt during the pandemic, he said: "The world is full of uncertainties and anything can happen... I also learnt that sport is the only way to unite the world and that's why we're here."

He and three other NN Running Team members have also been training in Kenya for the past month with Abbott's Libre Sense glucose sport biosensor to monitor their glucose levels to help them achieve optimal athletic performance.

Sunday's race will be the first time they will use the biosensor in a competitive marathon.

The biosensor, a small round device worn on the back of the upper arm, allows the runners to tap into real-time molecular data to monitor their glucose levels and help them design personalised nutrition plans.

The Olympic qualifying window closes on May 31.