Sunday, October 13, 2019

Achieving the Seemingly Impossible: A Tribute to Eliud Kipchoge

Yesterday, two highly important events occurred in the sports world.  First, OU prevailed in the Red River Showdown.  Boomer Sooner!  But, that’s not what this post is about (so, stay w/me Texas Longhorns fans!).  Second, famed Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge broke the 2-hour marathon barrier.  Today’s post is my heartfelt way of paying tribute to Kipchoge’s historic moment. 

In June, co-blogger and fellow runner Haskell Murray wrote about inspirational runners exemplifying toughness, self-discipline, humility, and perseverance (here).  In July, I followed suit (here).  In reflecting upon the little I know of Kipchoge’s journey that led to smashing a barrier many thought impossible, it’s clear to me that he has these character traits in abundance.

In November 2016, Nike announced its Breaking2 project.  In a nutshell, it involved years of planning, the assembly of world-class scientists, trainers, runners, and even a new shoe, in the quest for a sub-two hour marathon.  In May 2017, after months of intense preparation, Kipchoge almost achieved this objective.  His time: 2:00:25 (a Nike/National Geographic documentary of the Breaking2 project is: here).  He’d given 100%, but ultimately failed to reach the goal.  Nevertheless, Kipchoge did not quit.  Indeed, in the 2018 Berlin Marathon, he set the current official world marathon record of 2:01:39.

Yesterday, Kipchoge made history.  This required tremendous perseverance, extreme self-discipline, mental toughness, and the humility to risk once again falling short of the goal in the international spotlight.  As I’ve learned more about Kipchoge’s running career through reading and short films like the one released ahead of the 2019 London Marathon of his training camp and philosophies (here), several takeaways and life-lessons for all seem to be:

[N]o-one is limited

Never give up.

“If you want to be successful, you need to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for.  Where you want to go and why you want to get there.”

The importance of sacrifice in achieving success.

Keep it simple and focused.

The importance of taking risks

“In training, it’s teamwork” – “1 percent of the whole team is really more important than 100 percent of yourself.”

[T]he positivity of sport”

Believe in the impossible!

 [10/15/19 Postscript: Kipchoge won two Olympic medals: bronze (2004) and silver (2008) in the 5000m.  He pivoted to distance running after failing to make the 2012 Kenyan Olympic team (here).  In 2016, he won the Olympic marathon.  Yet one more example of his not letting failure stop him, but instead persevering and turning it into triumph!]        


Colleen Baker | Permalink


Thanks for this post Colleen. I woke up in the wee morning hours to watch this amazing feat. I may have even shed a few tears when he broke free of his pacers -- it was beautiful. For the non-runner readers, who are having a hard time grasping this accomplishments, go down to your local track and try to run a single lap (1/4 of a mile) in 68 seconds. I have been training, pretty seriously, for 5 years and one lap at that pace would bring me to my knees afterward. 2 laps would be a serious challenge, and I am not sure if I could do it, even on my best day. Eliud did the equivalent of 105 consecutive laps at that pace--4:33.8 for 26.2 miles---and was still jogging around hugging folks afterward! Amazing!

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Oct 14, 2019 8:53:21 AM

Colleen, both this post and Eliud Kipchoge’s run are so inspiring. Thanks for relating all this. The life lessons in this achievement are truly amazing.

Posted by: joanheminway | Oct 14, 2019 6:11:48 PM

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