Road Running

Kipchoge on a marathon mission in Berlin: “all sport is about mentality”

On Sunday, Eliud Kipchoge returns to the Berlin Marathon two years after finishing second in the event and this time, the 30-year-old ranks as the clear favourite. In opposition, though, are two of the fastest marathoners in history: last year’s runner-up Emmanuel Mutai and former New York and Boston Marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai. Kipchoge, who won the London Marathon earlier this year in 2:04:42, sounded in confident form in Berlin this morning when he spoke to JumpingTheGun.

What are your tactics for Sunday?

I will assess after 30km and see what the situation is and how my body feels.

Turbo engines: training partners Emmanuel Mutai and Eliud Kipchoge will go head to head on Sunday. Image: PhotoRun

Turbo engines: training partners Emmanuel Mutai and Eliud Kipchoge will go head to head on Sunday. Image: PhotoRun

Is your main goal to win the race or to set the world record?

I want the world record to be in my name. These are the fastest guys on the planet, though, so winning only is not important, but it’s about how to prepare to win. The one who crosses the finish line first will be the one among us who is best prepared. I am focusing on a fast time on Sunday. It will be a very special day. All the Kenyans will be watching and it’s a chance for me to run a faster time. I’m not saying [I’ll run] the world record, but I want to run my PB.

What was your training like for Berlin?

I started a month after London [Marathon in April]. In June I decided to come and run in Berlin. My training has been good; I’ve been covering about 200km per week, running twice a day most days. My longest distance per week is normally 40km on Thursdays, and that can be 2:15 on a flat course, sometimes 2:20, 2:27, depending on how hilly the course is.

You train with Emmanuel Mutai; do you have an idea who is in the better shape?

I have a feeling my body is in good shape and ready to run on Sunday, but for the others, I don’t know.

How do you feel your shape compares to when you won in London?

My shape is okay; it’s somewhat the same as London. My training has been very good.

Track star: Kipchoge was the world 5000m champion in 2003. Image: PhotoRun

Track star: Kipchoge was the world 5000m champion in 2003. Image: PhotoRun

How often do you train with Mutai?

We normally train together three times a week, for important sessions.

What was your hardest workout?

Normally either the fartlek on the road or the long run on a hilly course. The fartlek is for one hour; it’s can be 13 times three minutes high [pace], one minute low. Every Tuesday we go to the track. Patrick Sang is one of the best coaches in the world and we are very lucky to train with him. It is a privilege.

Is the Olympic Games in Rio a long-term goal?

That’s in my mind, yes.

The Chicago Marathon decided to abandon pacemakers this year. What are your thoughts on that decision?

When they say yes [to pacemakers], they are right and when they say no, they are also right. Athletes learn better tactics without a pacemaker and athletes who are really focused can still run a fast time. For the faster time I prefer pacemakers but I enjoy it without too; you learn a lot about tactics. I need to learn how to run without them for the Olympics.

How much time has it taken for you to learn the marathon as an event?

It’s a really slow process to change from the track to the marathon, from the fast workouts to the slow workouts. It takes a lot of thinking. All sport is about mentality. It’s really physical but it takes time for the mind to accept the change.

Is it tough to be as motivated now as when you were younger?

It’s really tough because people expect you to have very good results.

What do you think will be needed to get on the Kenyan team for the Olympic Games in Rio?

I think consistency and how you are able to handle the race. It’s different in Kenya because we don’t have trials and that’s good, because it’s not a good idea to have trials for a marathon. It comes down to what the federation decide and I don’t know what they’re considering.

You’ve been at the top of the sport for 12 years, which is very rare for a top Kenyan athlete. What to you attribute that to?

First of all, a lot of discipline. I’m treating sport as a profession. I get my priorities right. I sacrifice my feelings and passions for the sport. I don’t complain about things and keep moving forward. When I reflect back 12 years, I am really happy with my mentality and character over that time and I hope to continue.


Speed demons: Dennis Kimetto, Emmanuel Mutai and Geoffrey Kamworor during the 2014 Berlin Marathon. Image: PhotoRun
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Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy

Cathal Dennehy is a freelance journalist, a once-serious, now-retired athlete who writes for a number of international publications in the running industry. He previously worked for the Sunday Tribune, Irish Runner magazine and has written for the Sunday Independent, Irish Independent, Irish Examiner and the Guardian. He is also a regular contributor to Runner's World.
His banter levels are often poor, occasionally exceptional.

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