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Eliud Kipchoge: Unquestionably The Greatest Of All Time

Simply put, Eliud Kipchoge is the best marathon runner of all time. The running legend from Kenya has won unheard of 15 of the 17 marathons he has entered.

Add two individual world records, Kipchoge, who is the first man to run marathon in less than two hours, has a claim to a rare level of greatness which is undeniable.

Yes, there was Abebe Bikila perhaps the most famous distance runner ever who won two consecutive marathons in Olympic games. Bikila’s journey to stardom was hard-earned accomplishment as the Ethiopian, running barefooted, became the first black African to win an Olympic marathon gold medal on the streets of Rome in 1960. He went on to have a  remarkable six year career that came to a halt in 1966 after winning 12 out of the 13 marathons he completed.

But Eliud Kipchoge’s legacy is perhaps even more astounding than that of the redoubtable Bikila. Starting from 2013 Hamburg Marathon, the former World 5000m champion initiated his dominance in distance running  that has persisted for nearly a decade, and shows no sign of fading.

A member of the Nandi people of Kenya’s hill country, Kipchoge comes from some of the humblest origins of any major sports person today. Born in 1984 as the fifth child to a family of small-scale farmers, he was raised by a single mother who worked as a teacher, only knowing his father from dusty old photographs.

As Kipchoge grew up in his hometown of Kapsisiywa, he would learn to become a hard worker, often cycling from his home to the capital town of Kapsabet, lugging several gallons of his family’s milk to sell at the local market.

Kipchoge started running when he was school going pupil where he could run over six kilometers per day. However he had his first taste of competition when he joined Kaptel Secondary School in Nandi where he graduated in 1999.

He began his competitive career in 2001 with the help ex-runner and national athletics coach for Kenya, Patrick Sang, whom they have since developed a very strong relationship, which brought many successes through the years.

Kipchoge had to wait until 2003 to win his first major medal, at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, setting a world junior record over 5000 metres, before becoming world champion at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics. That was followed by Olympic 5000 metres bronze for Kenya at the 2004 Athens Olympics before taking another bronze at the 2006 IAAF World Indoor Championships.

But Kipchoge was to truly burst on to the international running scene in 2013, a year after he failed to qualify for 2012 Olympics and could not make to Team Kenya for London. He had finished seventh over 5000m in trials before turning to the road with his first race being in French City of Lile where he had fast half marathon of 59:25, a time that remains his personal best.

The fast time in France convinced him that his future lay on a different surface and proceeded to his marathon debut in Hamburg, where he not only beat his competition by over two minutes, but set a course record and from that point forward there was nobody in the world who could hold a candle to Kipchoge’s brilliance.

SAPPORO, JAPAN - AUGUST 08: Eliud Kipchoge of Team Kenya, center, competes in the Men's Marathon Final on day sixteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sapporo Odori Park on August 08, 2021 in Sapporo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

From 2013 up to August 2021, Kipchoge has won every single gold medal in world marathon majors apart from 2020 London Marathon where he suffered his first defeat. Four-time winner Kipchoge was expected to clinch the victory in a corona-virus hit marathon that limited athlete runners and with no crowd.

Critics thought that by losing London Marathon title was the end of an era, but Kipchoge disapproved them by coming up strongly to win NN Marathon in April 2021 to seal a comeback into the sport. He offered himself the best time of the year, clocking 2:04:30.

Kipchoge boasts of marathon world record of two hours, one minute and 09 seconds in Berlin this year, that cut his own personal best by 30 seconds. He smashed his best set four years go,which he also set in Germany’s capital.

Although he will missed 2021 London Marathon, there is no indication that his successes would disappear anytime soon. Having retained his Olympic Marathon title in Tokyo, Kipchoge ran towards his legacy of greatness to become only the third person ever to retain their Olympic marathon title. His winning time of 2:08:38 placed him again in history book as he now holds two of the top five fastest times ever posted in Olympic marathons.

As of 2021, Eliud Kipchoge net worth is $3 million equivalent to 320 million Kenyan shilling, which he has pocketed from various road races across the globe. He has won London Marathon four times, the Berlin Marathon on four occasions and the Chicago Marathon once among others races.

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On top of his riches, Kipchoge was recently awarded a prestigious honor, Elder of the Order of the Golden Heart (EGH) for his outstanding performance by Government of Kenya.

Kipchoge’s life on the track has led him to become extremely focused and even philosophical in his outlook towards life. He has rose to become inspirational by telling his own story with his famous quote of no human is limited, that he delivered after breaking two hour marathon barrier in Vienna.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Any human being can go beyond their limits. No human being should be limited in their thoughts, in what he or she should be doing. Self-belief is crucial,” [/perfectpullquote]

For the 2019 event dubbed Ineos 1:59 Challenge, Kipchoge ran on a smooth, flat course that had no sharp corners and had assistance from an army of pacemakers to block wind. On top of that, a support car with beaming green lights onto the road was  provided as a visual marker of the required pace of two minutes, 50 seconds per kilometer.

But Kipchoge’s achievements have not being on the roads alone. In June 2020 he adopted 50.8 hectares of Kaptagat forest, and in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has launched this new tree planting drive and has also helped to raise money for Kenyan wildlife conservation.

Kipchoge is indeed  innovative, astute and blessed with a popular touch and a philosophical intelligence that’s a stark contrast to his humility.

Photos: Courtesy


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