My personal experience at the 2019 Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon

With Brigid Kosgei's coach, Erick Kimaiyo after participating at the 2019 Nairobi Marathon
My idea of a well-organized marathon race with working timing chips is one that should have their results ready in less than one micro-second after a runner crosses the finish line. It is now more than 24 hours since we last ran at the Nairobi marathon and still waiting for the results to come up. This is one thing that I think any serious and transparent marathon should work on.

It is more than 12 years since I did my first race at the annual Nairobi Marathon, and I have always been almost consistently running different distances here from the 10km to the 42km.

In 2007, I did help pace Gladys Chemweno, the lady who had eventually won the 10km race that year. By then, almost all races were being done entirely on the Mombasa road loop. It was great for fast times, but perhaps quite complicated to manage all distances on the same road.

Conseslus Kipruto again extended the Kenyan 3000m steeplechase dominance on Day 8 of the world championships in Doha!

Conseslus Kipruto after defending his world title in Doha
Leading up to the world championships, there were some fears among Kenyan fans that perhaps this was going to be the first time in a very long time that a non-Kenyan born athlete was going to win a world title in the men’s 3000m steeplechase event.

Since the IAAF world championships in 1991, Kenyans have continuously won world titles in the men’s 3000m steeplechase event. Except that it was rather a Kenyan-born, Stephen Cherono, renamed Saif Shaheen while representing Qatar, in 2003 and 2005.

Lessons to learn from the 1500m races that were run on Day 7 of the Doha world championships

Kenya's Ronald Kwemoi leading one of the men's 1500m heats
The shortest of all the track races that have more than ten runners running it is the 1500m event. There is a reason why they restrict the number of runners in 400m and 800m races, and why each one is assigned a lane to follow. It gives ample time and space for runners to avoid jostling and pushing as they seek the best positions to stay in a race.

On the other hand, the 1500m race is often marred by athletes getting boxed into the inside lanes, getting tripped and being at the wrong place at certain times in the race. This race is a combination of both speed and race tactics. One has to know when to be at a vantage position during the race and to react at the right time.

Hellen Obiri’s chances to defend her 5000m title got better, and the opposite happened for Faith Kipyegon, as Sifan Hassan chose the 1500m race over the 5,000m on Day 6 of Doha World championships

Hellen Obiri after winning the world title in 2017
The chances for Hellen Obiri to defend her 5000m world title slightly improved on day six of the world championships after Sifan Hassan finally settled on the 1500m instead of the 5,000m. Hellen Obiri who was disappointed by finishing outside the medal bracket in the women’s 10,000m event was back in action, winning the first heat of the 5000m races in 14:52.13. This became the fastest time of the evening and must have given Obiri the confidence she would need in the final on Saturday.

Good deeds were rewarded in the second heat of this event. Watching the start of the second heat, one would have easily wondered whether the athletes knew that they had to make the race a fast one in order to better their chances of qualifying to the final through their times, in case they would not finish in the top 5 automatic positions.

Conseslus Kipruto assured Kenyans that he would continue the Kenyan 3,000m steeplechase tradition in the men’s 3000m steeplechase on Day 5 of the Doha world championships.

Conseslus Kipruto after winning his 3000mSC heat in Doha
The men’s 3000m steeplechase final was shaping up into a very exciting final after what just happened in the heats. Not only would the four Kenyans who made it to the finals be looking out for Soufiane El Bakkali of Morroco and USA’s Hillary Bor and France’s Djilali Bedrani, but more importantly, the three Ethiopians who also made it to the finals and are beginning to invade a territory that has always belonged to Kenyans at the world championships for a long time.

For the Kenyan runners led by Conseslus Kipruto, they knew that Kenyans have always won gold medals and dominated this event from as early as 1968 by great legends that included Amos Biwott, among others. They were not going to let it end in their era. It would be like letting the relay baton drop when your teammates have safely delivered it to you and you are already so far ahead of your competitors.

Brigid Kosgei runs an amazing new world record of 2:14:04 at the 2019 Chicago marathon

Brigid Kosgei after smashing Paula Radcliffe's world record in Chicago. Photo by organizers
As we were just about to recover from the shock that struck us yesterday while watching Eliud Kipchoge running a time that most scientists had sworn was impossible for a human being to achieve in a marathon, Brigid Kosgei just gave us another shock today after just running 2:14:04 at the Chicago Marathon to shatter a sixteen year old world record by over one minute and twenty seconds!

Just 10 minutes into the race and Kosgei still had just one other runner remaining beside her. But that wasn’t for long. At the 5km point, Kosgei was alone with two pacesetters as she crossed it in an unimaginable 15:28.

Eliud Kipchoge, the official world record holder, just ran an “impossible” 1:59.40 for the marathon in Vienna!

Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line in Under 2hrs for the marathon
Think of anything that people think is impossible to accomplish; like flying by flapping your hands vigorously. Set your mind on doing it. Believe in yourself, and you will just be able to do that!

The greatest of all time, Eliud Kipchoge just did exactly that today in Vienna while running to inspire the human race that “no human is limited.”

Despite having listed the six reasons in my recent article in the lead up to this challenge as to why I thought Kipchoge was definitely going to run under two hours, it was almost unimaginable seeing him maintaining such a crazy pace consistently throughout to entire 42.2km.

Kenenisa Bekele missed the world record by two seconds after running 2:01:41 to win the 2019 Berlin Marathon

Kenenisa Bekele winning the 2019 Berlin Marathon
At around the 32km point, Birhanu Legese dropped a 2:48/km pace and maintained such a hard pace that saw Bekele drop back from the leading pack of three. Sisay Lemma, the other runner in the leading pack, soon struggled to keep up with the leader too and began a gap open between them. Given his recent record of dropping out of the Berlin marathon in 2017, the Dubai marathon in 2017, and at the Amsterdam marathon last year with less than two kilometers to the finish line, it appeared as though Bekele was just about to have another bad day.

However, at around the 36 km into the race, Bekele looked recharged. He soon overtook Lemma and began chasing down Legese at the front. He moved to the opposite side of the road as he approached Legese and rapidly overtook him as though he was standing.

Day 4 of the Doha world championships: Halimah Nakaayi, Muktar Edris and Beatrice Chepkoech win gold

Beatrice Chepkoech. Photo from IAAF Diamond League
As the world championships in Doha entered Day 4, the events were getting more and more exciting with the number of finals increasing each day. It was perhaps the best night, so far, especially for the middle and long distance track fans with the men’s 5000m, the women 3000m steeplechase and the women’s 800m finals.

From the beginning of the men’s 5000m race, Ethiopian runners took to the front, with USA’s Paul Chelimo being the only one in their midst. At first, it was Muktar Edris who momentarily seemed to have been controlling the early pace as Tilahun Bekele and Selemon Barega awaited their turn to take up the pacing duties just behind him. After setting the sub-13-minute rhythm at the front, Edris then moved back almost into the middle of the rest of the field and waited for his time to come.

Sifan Hassan winning her first gold medal in Day 2 of the Doha world championships in the women 10,000m

Sifan Hassan winning her race in Doha
Sifan Hassan showed her resolve to make history after winning the women 10,000m final, the first of the 3 events she was aiming to win at this year’s world championships in Doha. The remaining races would definitely be easier for her than the 10,000m race given that she is ranked as world number one in both the 5,000m and the 1500m distances and she is as well the IAAF Diamond League Trophy winner in both.

It was a hotly contested 10,000m race in which most of the runners recorded their personal best times despite the not so ideal conditions for fast times in Doha.

Ruth Chepngetich winning the first gold medal on Day 1 of the IAAF world championships in Doha

Ruth Chepngetich winning the marathon in Doha
Looking so determined and focused, Chepngetich broke away at the 35km point from a leading pack that had three other athletes in it and never looked back again. Helalia Johannes and Ednah Kiplagat quickly began to fade, but Rose Chelimo remained hanging behind her for a while adding an element of suspense to the race. However, the background behind her after the 40km mark became a clear road. She went ahead to cross the finish line in 2:32.43. Chelimo of Bahrain came second in 2:33.46 while Namibia’s Johannes took third in 2:34.15.

During the earlier stages, at around 10 minutes into the race, Kenya’s Visiline Jepkesho and Chepng’etich had picked up their water and suddenly opened up a gap while the rest gulped down their drinks. It was as though it was an agreed strategy between the two. They had quickly closed the gap that had been created by Sardana Trofimova at the front and soon caused a single file from the huge pack that had remained up to that point.

Six reasons why I think Eliud Kipchoge will most likely break the 2hr barrier for the Marathon this Saturday in Vienna

Eliud Kipchoge. Photo from his Facebook Page
The only reason why we cannot give it a 100% certainty is that it is not any normal task, like breaking a world record. It is much more than that. Kipchoge will be trying to test the limit of what is humanly possible for the human race to achieve in the marathon. 

1. He would not have agreed to take up the challenge.
There is one thing I have learned about Kipchoge since he took up road running. He doesn’t just race anyhow; that is why he has won 12 out of all the 13 marathons he has ever run. The only one he didn’t win, he finished 2nd.

Kipchoge takes his time to prepare well and only races one or two marathons in a year unlike other runners who do multiple races in a year without caring about the impact it will have on their careers.

Kipchoge believes he is going to break the barrier. Some people’s believes are stronger than others’ and I believe Kipchoge has always had a strong belief in whatever he has ever set to achieve.

2. He is currently the greatest marathon runner ever in history
He is the only human to have ever run a marathon under 2hrs and 1 minute. He has run 2:01.39 for the world record as well as 2:00.25 in his first sub 2hr marathon attempt in Monza, Italy.

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Kenyan Athlete with fans in Canada The happenings from 2016 to 2018 have inspired me tremendously to take up the job of helping others...