Modest Kipchoge vows to make history

Eliud Kipchoge.
Eliud Kipchoge.

VIENNA • As he prepares for more assaults on the peaks of marathon running, Eliud Kipchoge aims to stay true to an austere lifestyle despite his fame and fortune.

The Kenyan, who holds the marathon world record of 2hr 1min 39sec and is the reigning Olympic champion, is hoping to become the first man to run the 42.195 km race in under two hours in Vienna today.

But, despite his status and wealth, the World Athlete of the Year, who has finished second in just one of the 12 marathons he has taken part in, leads a monastic existence at a spartan running camp in Kenya's Rift Valley.

"I don't think I am different. I am trying my best to live a modest life," he said."I am a simple person, I try to stay calm and focus on what I do. There are no distractions."

The serenity has allowed Kipchoge to channel his energy into possibly making history in Austria, with British conglomerate Ineos sponsoring his run, titled the "1:59 Challenge", which will be broadcast live on their YouTube channel.

The 34-year-old went close to breaking the two-hour barrier in 2017 when he was 25 seconds too slow in another staged run at Italy's Monza circuit, but this time, he told the BBC he was "more prepared and I am confident".

The sport's governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, will not ratify today's time as a vehicle and a 41-strong squad of pacemakers will aid Kipchoge in controlling his speed.

But he said the event was "about history" and would "show to the world when you focus on your goal, when you work hard and when you believe in yourself, anything is possible".

  • 2 hours 

  • Time Eliud Kipchoge will attempt to eclipse in a marathon distance today in Vienna.

"It's about leaving a legacy. It's about inspiring people," he added. "My main message to the 7.5 billion people in the world is that no human is limited.

"Breaking the two-hour marathon barrier would be like man landing on the moon.

"It's not about thinking, 'Am I going to do it?' I have tried it the first time and the second time, I will do it," he said.

"I have visualised it. I have put it in my heart and my mind that I will break the two-hour barrier."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2019, with the headline 'Modest Kipchoge vows to make history'. Print Edition | Subscribe