In 2013, Eliud Kipchoge won his first world championships at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships 5000m Junior race and later the Senior 5000m. These could pass as any other wins on the track but with the benefit of hindsight, sixteen years later, a story of determination and persistence can be told.
It’s a story of a man who a year later at the 2004 Olympics in Athens,Greece – coincidentally the land of Marathoners, won a bronze medal. Kipchoge, who I choose to hail today as King Choge, didn’t win a gold medal again until the 2016 Rio Olympics marathon.
This is a story of conquering barriers and disbelief. From a track event to running marathons, Kipchoge chose to challenge himself and set a higher target. The failure to win gold again in the 5 kilometer races, to him turned out to be a push to face the 42 kilometer challenge which he went to win 12 of the 13 world marathon majors that he has entered.
His only marathon loss was when the world record was broken by Wilson Kipsang in the 2013 Berlin Marathon. He has not only gone on to win each of the three Berlin Marathons that he entered thereafter, but set the world record on the same course.
When referred to as the G.O.A.T – Greatest Of All Time-, these stories are an inspiration that it can be done. There are no impossibilities. When you fail once, rise up and move on. Run each race, chin up with your eyes on the prize.
The highlight of his story might be the #Ineos159 Challenge, a race to break the two hour barrier in marathons. Amidst doubts of human possibility, enduring the pressure from within and without, an elated Kipchoge did it with the world cheering him on.
It’s an inspiration worth emulating. Embracing hurdles where others see barriers. When you dutifully trump those hurdles, you’ll have achieved beyond the limits.
Generations will read about this, books written and stories will be told but what will stand out is this quote: “I don’t know where the limits are, but I would like to go there” – Because no human is limited.
Babu Burugu (ABLI Nairobi Cohort 1)