Distance running competitions around the world often leave spectators and competitors wondering how Kenyan marathoners continually dominate competitions from major marathons, to world class games to the Olympics. Is the secret in the terrain in their homeland?
Marathon Runners Eliud Kipchoge, winner of multiple Olympic medals, as well as winner of the 2014 Chicago marathon and 2015 London Marathon, and World Cross Country Champion Viola Lelagat Kibiwot, share the reasons many consider Eldoret, Kenya, one of, if not the world’s, best training ground for marathon running.
Of course, in addition to the excellent conditions offered in their homeland, “I think it’s tenacity,” says Kipchoge. “So you have to train hard and in a smart way. In athletics, the important thing is to plan and to prepare, but not to win. The win will come automatically.”
Kibiwot adds, “I can say that, running is something – you have to have it from your heart… So you can say that, to win, you have to have that passion, and you have to be ready all the time.” Kibiwot thinks the secret to being an accomplished distance runner is being disciplined at all times with training, and respecting yourself. “Because without that respect – if you don’t respect yourself, you can’t do anything,” she imparts.
Kipchoge agrees that the passion to run is important to the sport, but concedes that the climate of Eldoret, Kenya, Africa, and the altitude, which is 7,000 feet (~2,100 metres) high, also may give them an advantage as training in the thinner air at high altitudes makes it easier to run when closer to sea level.
Kipchoge ran in the Athens, London and Bejing Olympics. For him, average training includes running 200 and 250 kilometers each week, and a balanced diet to obtain all nutrients necessary to stay healthy.
“We’re in a third world country, thereby, we need to earn a living in different sources, and sports is one of them,” said Kipchoge, alluding that his marathon endeavors are his career, how he earns his living, in addition to being his passion. “People have a lot of interest in sports and that’s why we have a lot of champions here,” he shared.
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