Run, for we are only human

Old hero de Castella lost 50 toenails, loves Kipchoge and still breathes running

Eliud Kipchoge's shattering of the two-hour barrier during his staged run in Vienna in October has captured the imagination of many runners, including Robert de Castella, who last held the marathon world record in 1981.
Eliud Kipchoge's shattering of the two-hour barrier during his staged run in Vienna in October has captured the imagination of many runners, including Robert de Castella, who last held the marathon world record in 1981.
Eliud Kipchoge's shattering of the two-hour barrier during his staged run in Vienna in October has captured the imagination of many runners, including Robert de Castella, who last held the marathon world record in 1981.
Eliud Kipchoge's shattering of the two-hour barrier during his staged run in Vienna in October has captured the imagination of many runners, including Robert de Castella, who last held the marathon world record in 1981. PHOTO: REUTERS

On a carpet in a room at the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) office is unveiled a couple of athletic artefacts. Two old feet that belong to a smiling man. Feet which are like a boxer's eyebrows, a wrestler's ears, a weightlifter's hands, beaten up and worked over, callused pieces of sporting history.

Feet which set world records and whose suffering can be explained in a single number that he utters.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 15, 2019, with the headline 'Run, for we are only human'. Subscribe