Eliud Kipchoge has set a new marathon world record, and the world is one step closer to realising the dream of a sub-two-hour time record. On Sunday, the man obliterated the previous world record of 2:06:05, with his finishing time of 2:01:39 at the Berlin Marathon.
It sounds amazing, but this isn’t the best of Kipchoge that we’ve seen. The marathoner from Kenya was one of three men invited by Nike to be on the Breaking2 project, a scheme conjured by the brand to find new ways for runners to hit a race time below two hours. The man managed a time of 2.00.25hrs, albeit with the help of a drafting team of runners, reducing the wind resistance ahead of him.
Kipchoge talks us through his race experience in this exclusive interview.
Q: Hi, you did amazing out there! Was this the perfect race for you today?
Thank you. Yes, it was. I was alone on the last 17 kilometres, but I didn’t think at all about the fact that I was alone. I just thought that I have to keep up this pace until the very last kilometre.
Q: You broke the World Record. When did you know during the race that this time you setting the record was going to happen?
I was sure I would be able to set up a new record after 30 kilometres.
Q: At the end of a marathon, you see a lot of runners with pain in their faces. What do you do against this pain – or don’t you feel any at all?
Pain is everywhere when you run a marathon, but you have to try to keep these thoughts out of your mind and only concentrate on the race.
Q: What is in your head during a race like this, how are you looking to push your limits?
I don’t believe in limits. When I train, I try to listen to my body and challenge it to go beyond barriers when the moment is right.
Q: The sub-two-barrier is still on. From your record today, it is still 99 seconds to get below the magic mark. What do you think must happen, that this barrier can be broken in a regular/ official street race?
Actually, it is only 25 seconds. It is no rocket science to break this barrier. You simply have to believe in it, you need a great team that believes in it and in you, you need the perfect shoes and you need to be stronger than any runner before. Then everything is possible.
Q: You are running in a shoe that was developed for you. How much time do you think you could shave off because of it?
Actually, the shoe is for every runner out there, not only for me. I tested it and Nike took up my feedback. I contributed to making a shoe that is faster than any shoe before. But it is still the runner that needs to run fast.
Q: What are the three characteristics a runner needs for running a marathon?
Steady and consistent training, passion and self-discipline. Self-discipline is about focusing and living a simple life.
Q: How did you feel this morning when you woke up this morning?
I felt good.
Q: Do you ever feel stressed or nervous before a race?
Well, tension is there. If you don’t have tension then you have no chance at this, no chance in the race.
Q: How do you prepare this morning before your run?
I just wake up and do some stretching, maybe do some jog and more stretch.
Q: How did you feel when you crossed the finish line? Did you surprise yourself?
I felt great, but I got surprised by running 2.01. I knew I would run a world record eventually, but not that fast.
Q: You ran in Berlin before, how did the run this year compare to the run last year?
For years I’ve been enjoying racing in Berlin but last year was bad weather. This year is great weather.
Q: You have an Olympic gold medal. You’ve broken the world marathon record. What do you look forward to next, career-wise? Any future goals?
My plans are a blank piece of paper. I normally go by one plan at a time and my plan was to run the Berlin marathon. Now, I will take some time to myself now for recovery. I have a family, so I spend time with them. I like reading some books to get some stories from around the world. That’s what keeps me when I’m in recovery.
Q: You said you had a plan for this race. How did it look like?
It was a simple plan: keep a high pace and run the first half between 61 and 61:15 minutes. I did it.
Q: How was the atmosphere along the race track?
People were amazing. Without them cheering it would have been much harder at the end. Their support was music in my ears.
Q: Is there anything that did not go so well today?
Nothing, absolutely nothing. I am happy with the race, super happy with the result and that my plan worked out.
Q: You left your competitors far behind right from the beginning of the race. Did you expect that?
I did not think about my competitors at all, the only thing I focused on where the splits I wanted to run.
Q: Your pacers left at KM25 and then you had to run all alone. Was this planned like this?
I didn’t expect to be alone after 30K. But I am really grateful to the pacers that they got me there and supported me until 25K.
Q: I guess right now you are really tired and happy about the world record. Do you still have future goals in your head?
At the beginning of the season, my trainer said, you have written history with Breaking2. I’ve also ran 2:03, 2:04 und 2:05 already, today it was 2:01. 2:02 is still missing, right?
Q: Are you taking part in the Olympic Games?
Yes. I will keep running and trying to be successful. I never thought about retiring.
Q: You are always smiling in exhausting races. Just like today, Your smile is iconic. What do you think in such moments?
Marathon is life. And if you really want to be happy, then you have to enjoy life. That’s why I smile. I enjoy running the marathon.