Kenyan sub-two star insists it’s “possible” he can lower his own global mark when he bids for historic fifth win in the UK capital next year
Eliud Kipchoge believes he could break his own world record when he bids to become the first able-bodied athlete to win the Virgin Money London Marathon for a fifth time next April.
The Kenyan superstar, who created history with his groundbreaking run of 1:59:41 in October, has announced he will race in the UK capital once again in 2020 for the 40th edition of an event he has won four times in four appearances.
Kipchoge’s sub-two-hour run in Vienna was not eligible to be considered for world record purposes, given the controlled conditions in which it was achieved, but he can see the two-hour barrier being broken in a big city marathon in the not-too-distant future.
For now, the official world record stands as the 2:01:39 which the Olympic champion ran in Berlin last year and, though he insists there is plenty of training to do between now and the London race day of April 26, he won’t rule out going quicker come springtime.
“Absolutely,” was Kipchoge’s answer when asked if he could create yet more history in London, where he won in a time of 2:02:37 earlier this year which broke his own course record. “It is possible.”
Has what he achieved in Vienna in fact given him the confidence that anything is possible?
Kipchoge is undoubtedly the dominant force in world marathon and his achievements have gained recognition across the globe, with the 35-year-old currently in Britain to attend the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, where he will receive the World Sport Star of the Year award.
He is feted as a hero, too, in his native country, where he received a very different kind of medal.
“Everyone in Kenya is recognising me,” he said. “I can say it is a crazy time. There was no need for a big procession because the president honoured me with the national certificate. I was given the honour – the golden heart – the highest recognition by the Head of State.”
Just don’t expect Kipchoge to use his fame to follow the likes of Haile Gebrselassie into pursuing any sort of political career.
“I think it is good but I don’t want to go into politics,” continued Kipchoge. “I’m happy that running under two hours unified the whole world. Kenya came to a standstill for more than two hours. Unity as far as Kenyans and the whole world is concerned: that’s my happiness. Politics is out of the question for me.”
He added: “Fame comes with a responsibility and I think I’m enjoying it in a positive way. I’m doing what will be possible. It’s okay because I’m happy with my performance.”
The worrying news for Kipchoge’s opponents is that despite all of his success he is looking to keep improving that level of performance.
“I still have the fire,” he said. “Even if I am tired and have just woken up I just go for a run and after 10 minutes the energy just comes.
“When I wake up every day is another challenge. It will take a big challenge in London next year to win for the fifth time, it is not easy. It is a big challenge now.
“I have shown the way to all that to break two hours is possible. It will not be so long before we see an athlete run under two hours in a marathon.”
As road running times continue to tumble, however, so the part being played by technologically advanced footwear is coming under increasing scrutiny. Nike have been at the forefront of those developments, with Kipchoge wearing next generation AlphaFly shoes during his 1:59 attempt. He insists, however, that any record breaking is being driven predominantly by athlete performance, rather than any products.
“I thank Nike for the good shoes, they are doing a great job, but you know that above all it is the person themselves,” he said. “I will give you an example. We have 10 teams in Formula One, with the great engines and the great tyres from Pirelli but only Lewis Hamilton is winning. Why? Because he is focused and he is a very good professional driver. I met him in Abu Dhabi and I realised that to win it is not the tyres, it is the person.
“You know, what makes a human being is his conscience. If you don’t believe you can run fast, even in the best shoes you can’t do it.”