Emmanuel Wanyonyi nominated for the World Athletics Male Rising Star of the Year Award

Emmanuel Wanyonyi, photo by World Athletics

This week, Emmanuel Wanyonyi has been announced to be one of the five nominees for the World Athletics title of the male rising star of the year. Below is a story I did of him after visiting their camp in Kapsabet, a few days after his spectacular performance at the World Athletics Under 20 championships in Kasarani

Thanks to Janeth Jepkosgei who allowed me to visit her training camp and interact with the young runners there, I was lucky to meet Emmanuel Wanyonyi, who was back at the camp after his amazing 1:43.76 800m run to win the world athletics U20 title in Kasarani. The camp had a total of three runners winning medals at the championships.

From an almost hopeless situation of being a paid herder who lived from hand to mouth, Wanyonyi saw some runners out on training while he was herding cattle and asked himself, "why not try this too?"

By then he had dropped out of primary school due to financial difficulties in their family and had spent "some years" herding cattle at the village in order to get some money to cater for some of his basic needs. Herding is one of the hardest, despised, and low-paying jobs here in Kenya.

The first run that Wanyonyi did after he decided to become a runner was about fifteen laps on a nearby school track, which he didn't count. His legs and body would hurt him so much the following day, but he never lost hope.

"I would just go out running whenever I had the time, not knowing what distance I was covering nor the duration I would spend in a single run. Sometimes, I would use the track on the primary school nearby and one time some teachers saw me training hard and asked me to go back to school so that I would represent them at the track and field games." Wanyonyi explained how he started running.

At school, Wanyonyi finally got to represent his primary school in track events ranging from 5,000m down to 400m. But, interestingly, he won all the race distances in school. He proceeded to the regional level where he ran in the 1500m, 3,000m steeplechase, and the 4x400m relays and made it to the nationals where he got to meet the principal of Kosirai High School who invited him to report at the school for his secondary education in 2020.

Runner at the 2021 New York City Marathon improves his PB from 4:04:09 to 3:19:17!


What a weekend it was for me as a Kenyan online distance running coach!

Two of the runners that I coach online improved on their marathon personal best times; one from 4:04:09, down to 3:19:17, and another one from 3:32:11, a time he ran on the same race last year, to 3:14:05!

I definitely had to write something down to remember this amazing weekend. The greatest joy comes when the runners I coach reaps great results out of their commitment and hard work. I have been having some great feedback from other runners I coach as they run new personal best times after another. But, this could be the best weekend I will ever experience as an online coach. One of the runners even registered personal best times across distances from 10K, 15K, 20K, half marathon, 30K…. all through to the Marathon, in one single race!

The two races were on the 7th of November with the two runners running on two different continents. Faisal Shafi was running the Istanbul Marathon while Anthony Galsim was running the New York City Marathon.

A Master Class in Elite Marathon Training

Jane Mepham with Annex athletics group in Eldoret

This is a guest blog by Jane Mepham who is based in Austin Texas, but had the opportunity to visit Kenya; the land of champions. Below is the experience she got on her tour of Eldoret, Kaptagat, and Iten. 

Last month, I had the amazing opportunity to train with a group of elite runners in Kenya when I visited my coach Justin and his family. What I ended up with can only be described as a Masterclass in Elite Marathon Training.

I started training with Justin at the start of 2020, and as I detailed my first six months, it’s been a great journey for me. I have learned a lot about running and I’m making steady improvements. A big portion of this is my mental shift in running.

With more races opening, I’m excited that I’ll be able to run my first Marathon early next year. This was one of my goals when I started working with Justin and nothing has changed.

 The Land of The Champions

Eldoret is about 320 km from Nairobi by road but only about 264 km by air (about 160 miles), so it’s a quick flight.

From the moment you land at the Eldoret airport, you realize you are in the land of the elite runners and the towns are not shy about declaring this fact via huge signboards everywhere.

Memories of Agnes Tirop by some Kenyan runners

 

Agnes Tirop after running the 10K women's only world record. Photo by Getty Images
In the latest feature from World Athletics' Spikes magazine, some Kenyan runners talk about the memories they have of the late Agnes Tirop and how they were fond of her.

Peres Jepchirchir (Olympic marathon champion, women’s-only half marathon world record holder)

I was honoured to be the one who handed Agnes Tirop the flowers after she ran the 10km world record in Herzogenaurach, Germany. I had been invited by the organisers of the event and I was so happy for her.

Since 2014, I got to know Agnes and she had become a friend. She even came to stay and train with me in Kapsabet for about two weeks in 2015. This was after I had suffered a hip injury and recovered. She had a similar injury problem and had decided to come and stay with me so that she could get to work with the same physiotherapist who helped me heal. 

Read the rest of the story at Spikes: Agnes Tirop Memories

A sad week as Kenya loses Agnes Tirop and two other runners

Agnes Tirop ran a 10K world record of 30:01, photo courtesy Demadonna Athletic Promotions

It has been a very difficult, shocking, and sad week here in Kenya for the athletic fraternity, families, and friends following the deaths of three runners in different but quite related circumstances. Everything has been unreal and happening too fast. At times it would seem like a bad dream, and at times like a horror film.

Fresh from representing the country at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in August and just back from running a 10K world record of 30:01 barely a month ago, the death of Agnes Tirop, who was found dead in her bed with stab wounds shocked and angered many in Kenya and across the world. It is hard to believe that the world record run she just ran was to be the last run the world would ever see of the soft-spoken, humble, and very talented youngster who was only 25 years old.

The prime suspect in the murder of Tirop is her husband who had not been on good terms with her of late, and the incident happened when Tirop had allegedly gone back to their house to collect her belongings. The suspect is still at large.

No one expected it could turn this tragic. Many regrets and questions flooded the social media on how such a tragedy could have been avoided.

My brief interview with Cathal Dennehy, writer and commentator for World Athletics

With Cathal Dennehy at the end of the WU20 championships in Kasarani, Nairobi

Here is a brief interview I had with Cathal, who was part of the World Athletics editorial team at the WU20 championships in Nairobi in August.

Cathal Dennehy is a very busy man, and he was so at the World Athletics Under 20 Championships in. In the morning, he was doing a lot of writing, then  talking non-stop on the live World Athletics TV (the Twitch tv) the whole of the afternoon. So, I find the few minutes he gave me as "all the time he had in the world" that he sacrificed for this brief interview.

1. What is the hardest part of announcing a long meeting?

Filling the time. Some events may take up to 8 hours long and the best thing to do before is to do enough research on all the athletes competing. If you haven't done your research, it can get very painful in trying to fill the time.

Without enough research, you might be announcing one athlete that you think will win, then another one you don't even know anything about wins it and you appear like a fool.

2. Your biggest Tokyo Memory?

Despite being exhausting due to the heat and humidity, knowing that a lot of people could not get the chance to be there to enjoy the games due to the pandemic, I could not complain about anything because it was such a privilege to be there, and the athletics events were amazing.

One moment that stands out to me was Warlholm's 400m hurdles world record. It was stunning. Everyone was thumb-struck and we all went silent in the stadium after that. It was hard to believe he could run 45 seconds while jumping the hurdles.

My report on the 2021 Kip Keino Classic Meeting in Nairobi

Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi in the women 5000m at the KIpkeino Classic

This was the report from my coverage of the Kipkeino Classic for RunBlogRun last month in Nairobi, Kenya.

One of the fans had shouted, "This has never happened before in history!" after the epic men's 100m race. But, while it may be true and obvious that almost everything that is happening right now, or going to happen in the future has never happened before, what Trayvon Bromell and Ferdinand Omanyala did in the men's 100m race will remain historical.

In a thrilling race that left almost all the spectators in the stadium on their feet, shouting themselves hoarse, Bromell set another world leading time of 9.76 to edge Ferdinand Omanyala by one micro-second. Bromell had a good start, but the gap between the two was rapidly diminishing towards the finish line and the Kenyan crowd was hoping that Omanyala could take the win. But, it was Bromell who ended up with a better position on the world's fastest 100m runners of all time as he is now tied in 6th place with Christian Coleman. Omanyala is now placed 8th with his new personal best time of 9.77 on the all-time best 100m runners.

In what may now make Kenya the best destination for international sprinters to come and run their personal best times, Fred Kerley of USA also ran a personal best time of 19.76 to win the men's 200m ahead of Isaac Makwala who ran 20.06 and Filippo Tortu who ran 20.11.

Here is the story: The Kip Keino Classic Continental Tour meeting leaves memories to last in Kenya

How Janeth Jepkosgei is nurturing young runners in Kenya

Entrance to Janeth Jepkosgei's camp in Kapsabet

Last month, I visited Janeth Jepkosgei to do a story for world Athletics on the wonderful work she is doing to give back to society. Below is a short sample of the story and a link to the story at the World athletics website.

For what she is doing for young runners and the community, Janeth Jepkosgei remains a heroine even after changing her career from an athlete to a coach and mentor.

“I am doing this because of the love I have for running and for the athletes. Running changed my life in a big way. I find great joy in nurturing and guiding young runners and in seeing them begin to excel in their careers as well,” said 2007 world 800m champion Jepkosgei, referring to the numerous selfless contributions she has made to support young runners from different levels and backgrounds and the training camps she has set up to do so.

Here is the full story: How Jepkosgei is nurturing young runners in Kenya

Physical and mental preparation three weeks to your marathon race

Runners participating in a half marathon race in Eldoret, Kenya

 As a runner, there is little you can do to significantly improve on your fitness level three weeks out from a marathon, but there is a lot that can happen to ruin your race day—or even your reputation, if you are an elite runner and happen to stop at a roadside stand and buy a contaminated burrito containing the type of WADA-prohibited substances that can get you banned for years.

In a typical long distance training program, weeks of hard training are followed by a recovery week (or two) allowing the body to re-energize and avoid stagnating in a running plateau. But, as race day approaches, a runner has to make sure they are in their best form and healthy on their race day.

Read my full article on SimpliFaster Website

Information on my marathon and long distance running online coaching programs

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

I offer my online training programs now on three levels:

A Gold label is $85 per month, where you get unlimited communication with me on a daily basis regarding your training; from recovery, nutrition, injury prevention, and any other concerns you may have. I will provide you with individualized weekly training programs, assess your progress on a weekly basis before checking if any adjustments can be made before issuing another weekly program. You get to communicate constantly with me throughout the week via email, FaceBook and WhatsApp chat/calls.

A Silver label is $75 per month, where I issue you with an individualized weekly training program via email. You get to communicate constantly via email in case of any concerns and questions regarding your training in the course of the week. I assess your progress at the end of the week and issue another program.

A Bronze label for the next month will be $68 per month. You get all the benefits of the gold label, only that you will have to pay for 3 months in advance.

I have voluntarily coached a good number of runners over the last three years who have returned some amazing results in their running achievements.  It has always been my passion to provide tips on all the dynamics of training from starting running, mileage loading, different types of speed workouts and when/how to start them, hill workouts, avoiding injury, and preparing a program that takes all these into consideration.

How one Kenyan runner is coping with the tough economic times

Joshua Kiplimo working out in his homemade gym.


Perhaps someone might be interested in sponsoring this talented and hardworking runner who has been forced to train alone in a remote village due to tough economic times.

Even before the pandemic came along and made life more difficult, I had experienced and heard many stories of Kenyan runners struggling to fend for themselves as they trained hard before finally making it in life. Some don’t even want to be reminded of the hard times they went through.


There was a time I would see a runner do a tough workout in the morning, then, since his home was far away and he would anyway not find food even if he went there, would just loiter around until he does another evening run with the training group before going home. I saw him trembling with hunger one day, took him to a hotel, and ordered something small for him since I was also struggling. As he was about to sit down, he saw a 200 shilling note ($2) on the ground. It was as though something big had happened to his life as he quickly stepped on the note and sat down still for such a long time. He cautiously looked around to make sure that no one else besides me had seen him. Sweating, he slowly bent down and removed the note from the ground. He then pressed it hard in his fist, partly to make sure he actually had the money in his hand and was not just another dream, and partly to make sure that no one would snatch it away from him. He then ordered a heavy meal for himself and used the money to pay for it.


Well, that was way before the pandemic.


Quickly to the present and I now came across this amazing young runner who was forced to move out of a room he was renting out in order to be able to train with the rest of the runners here, but his resilience has seen him construct a gym for himself in the village by recycling and improvising some used containers, bags, and other materials.


Below are some of the videos of him training in his improvised gym.











Monaco Diamond League meeting will stage the highly anticipated head to head competitions this year!

Faith Kipyegon already in Monaco for the Diamond League meeting on 9th July. Photo courtesy of Faith Kipyegon's Facebook page.

It has been more than one year since Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot ran against Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen. The men’s 1500m race here will finally present the opportunity for the two to face each other. Cheruiyot has the fastest seasonal best and personal best times on the start list, but his opponent could see a weakness in the fact that he finished fourth at the Kenyan Olympic trials and was not named in the team. Ingebrigtsen who has been unbeaten in the 1500m and 5000m distances this year, and is ranked as world number two behind Cheruiyot, will most likely be hoping to prove that he is the best in the world by beating the best.

Another one of the highly anticipated races of the evening will be the women’s 1500m race that has Netherland’s Sifan Hassan and Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon. The two ran a fantastic race last month in Rome where Hassan registered a world-leading and meeting record time of 3:53.63 as she edged Kipyegon who registered a new national record and a personal best time of 3:53.91. Hailu Freweyni of Ethiopia is the only other competitor with a seasonal best time of under 4 minutes, but the clear protagonists here will be Hassan and Kipyegon.

My stories on day 1, 2 and 3 of the Kenyan Olympic Trials

Hellen Obiri after winning the world 5000m title in Doha. Photo courtesy of World Athletics

Day one:

A quality field in the women’s 5000m straight final marked the beginning of the Kenyan Olympic Trials at the Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi. All the big names, nine of them, stuck together up to the last 800m of the race when there was a quick increase in the pace as the runners jostled for their vantage positions coming to the bell.

Lilian Kasait who had been patient throughout the race, suddenly came to the front in the last lap and sprinted with about 300m. A single file formed behind her as Hellen Obiri fought hard to close her gap, in vain. Kasait took the title followed by Obiri in second and Agnes Tirop in third. Margaret Chelimo, Beatrice Chebet and Mercy Cherono followed for 4th, 5th and 6th places.

Faith Kipygon, as expected, easily won the women’s 1500m final leading from gun to tape. Winnie Chebet, the only other woman to have made the qualification time on the start list finished second.

Brazil is arguably the most inspirational team at the world relays in Silesia

Dos Santos of Brazil in action. Photo by World Athletics

Brazil, and other countries including India, are some of the countries that have been hugely affected by the Covid 19 pandemic, and it was great to see them able to make it to the world relays. It should be a great inspiration to the rest of the world that it is possible to fight the virus and return back to our normal lives again, by following the set rules and guidelines by our medical experts. That the world has not yet come to an end and we can still play, enjoy life and stay active again.

Sometimes, when an election draws near, politicians employ many tricks to win the hearts of the electorates. One of them is that of acting as victims of some circumstances in order to gain some “sympathy votes.”

One of the sad moments on the first day was that of Brazil getting disqualified in heat one of the women’s 4x100m relay. Considering that other nations, like the USA and Jamaica, opted to stay out of the championships due to the pandemic, and the number of tests and commitment that the Brazilian team endured to appear at the relays, perhaps the officials should have looked at the incident where one of the runners stepped on the line more leniently.

Live Streaming link to the 2021 World Relays in Silesia, Poland

 

USA and Jamaica’s absence at the 2021 World Relays could result in a more successful outing for Kenya

Team Kenya heading out for the world relays (Photo by Athletics Kenya)

The prospect for Kenya’s team that is already in Selesia and ready to represent their nation tomorrow looks more promising than it had ever been in the last editions of the world relays.

At the last world relays in Yokohama, USA had placed on top of the medal table with 22 gold medals followed by Jamaica with 5 and Kenya was in the third position with 3 gold medals. With the absence of both the USA and Jamaica at the Silesia world relays, Kenya stands a better chance of emerging on top of the medal table.

Already Kenya, Germany, and Poland have guaranteed medals to win in the mixed shuttle relays, to start off their medal hunt on the first day, if only their athletes finish the event, and are not disqualified. This is a relatively new event at the world relays where two men and two women on each team run 110m hurdle legs. There are only three countries that are entered in the event that will be one of the two finals on the first day of the championships, and three medals to be given out!

The other final of the first day (1st May) will be the 2X2X400m mixed relay. Six countries have entered the event. Kenya appears to have a strong field here with the world 800m bronze medalists, Ferguson Rotich and Commonwealth 800m champion, Wyclife Kinyamal featuring in their team. At the last world relays in Yokohama, Kenya had led from the start only to be disqualified in the end under rule 163.6. The main opponent for Kenya here will be the host nation of Poland that also has a considerably strong team and the home ground as an added advantage.

There will be seven finals on the second day, the 2nd of May: The day will feature the more established and well know relays that have more countries entered in them and that will have their heats being done on the first day. These will be the 4x400m mixed relays, and the men and women 4x 100m, 4x200m, and 4x400m.

The Kenyan team may be affected by the fact that a number of their best runners including Zablon Ekwam and Hellen Syombua were left behind due to various undisclosed reasons.

Running under the COVID 19 darkness brings up childhood memories, and soul searching, for me

Getting ready for my run

In my primary school days in the 1990s, I lived around 5km away from my school. School rules required that the pupils in the upper primary classes report to school by 5:30AM in the morning. There were three pressure lamps that we would use to light up the room and revise before there would be enough natural light from the rising sun.

However, we had a problem. No one had a watch. This won’t come as a surprise given that we were actually running to school in total darkness, not knowing what time it was, barefooted.

There was a man called Jonjo, who lived conveniently on a hill and had a small radio. He would at times pierce the night’s silence by shouting and announcing the time at exactly 4am to wake up the rest of us who had neither a radio nor a watch. He was not reliable though, and at times when he would oversleep, many pupils ended up getting late for school and getting punished.

At times I would make a terrible mistake of thinking that it was already 4AM and would go to school as early as 1AM. The watchman would ask me to go back home but remembering the scary bushes, the dark insecure bridge I had to cross at the river, and dogs I had survived to reach school, I would gladly opt to just sleep on the classroom’s cold cemented floor until other pupils would arrive.

Now, I have all the shoes and a GPS-enabled watch, but still, I do not know when the next opportunity to race will present itself.

Buffalo Marathon will take place on June 26 and 27, says organizers

Photo from Buffalo Marathon website

The Buffalo Marathon, which is now one of the qualifying marathons for the Abbott World Marathon Majors Wanda Age Group World Rankings Qualifying Series, well-loved by runners for its relatively flat and fast course, scenic views and sites alongside the course, will happen in June.

Tisia Kiplangat holds the men’s course record with a 2:15:39 time which he ran in 2015 while Hirut Guangul ran the women’s course record of 2:38:26 in 2016.

Following Governor Cuomo's press conference, the organizers have been notified that they now have the official state approval to move forward with the Buffalo Marathon. The Marathon Weekend will take place on June the 26th and 27th in Buffalo, NY.

“The safety of all participants is our highest priority, so in the coming weeks, we will publish our safety protocols detailing our safety precautions for the event weekend,” says Greg Weber, who is the race director.

“We're thrilled to welcome our loyal running community back to the 20th Anniversary of the Buffalo Marathon Weekend. Come and join us for the return to racing in Western New York,” he added

This year though, there will be no prize money for the elite runners. There are still limited charity spots available to be taken.

To read the full press release and to register, one can visit: www.buffalomarathon.org

Lack of adequate time for Ethiopia’s Marathon teams to prepare could give an edge to Kenyans in Sapporo

Mule Wasihun, Eliud Kipchoge and Moisinet Geremew (Photo by World Athletics)

A proper marathon training program usually takes around 17 weeks, which won’t happen for the selected Ethiopian Olympic Marathon team after their trials this weekend.

It is a year with many uncertainties caused by the pandemic, but it is more so for the Ethiopian marathon runners who are yet to be named in the national team to represent their nation at the Tokyo Olympic Games later in July.

As their neighbors and strong opponents in Kenya are busy strategizing on how to run well in Sapporo, Japan, the Ethiopians are still focusing on how to make the team at the relatively high altitudes near Adis Ababa.

The Ethiopian marathon national trials will happen this Saturday in Sebeta, a few kilometers away from the country’s capital city. The first three to cross the finish line will make the team.

Already, Kenenisa Bekele has protested the trials happening so close to the Olympic Games saying that there will be so little time to train for the Olympic race after. In what appears to be a huge blow to the Ethiopian federation, Birhanu Legese and Mule Wasihun are also expected to miss the trials.

Below are the athletes expected to participate in the trials.

Men:

Kenenisa Bekele

Birhanu Legesse

Moisenet Geremew

Mule Wasihun

IOC, IPC, Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Goverment and the Government of Japan's joint statement

Picture courtesy of IOC

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the government of Japan today agreed on the following measures:

  1. All participants are required to take two COVID-19 tests before their flight to Japan. 
  2. In principle, athletes and all those in close proximity with athletes will be tested daily to minimize the risk of undetected positive cases that could transmit the virus. The dates and times will be set in line with the sports events and schedule.
  3.  All other Games participants will be tested daily for three days after their arrival. After the first three days and throughout their stay, they will be tested regularly, based on the operational nature of their role and level of contact with athletes.
  4.  All Games participants must, in principle, only follow the activities they have outlined in their activity plan. They must minimize contact within one meter of Games participants who have already been in Japan for more than 14 days and Japanese residents.
  5.  All Games participants must, in principle, exclusively use dedicated Games vehicles, and they are not allowed to use public transport.
  6.  All Games participants must, in principle, eat only in the limited locations where COVID-19 countermeasures are in place, including catering facilities at Games venues, their accommodation's restaurant, and their rooms, using room service or food delivery.
  7.  Close contacts are defined as those who have prolonged contact (for 15 minutes or more) with a person who has a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, within one meter, without wearing a face mask. This is particularly applicable when such contact happens in enclosed spaces such as hotel rooms or vehicles. Cases will be confirmed by the Japanese health authorities.
More of the story on the IOC website here

If only he wasn't a Kenyan, his 2:07:51 performance would probably have placed him in the Olympic Marathon Team!

The leading pack of the Xiamen Marathon and Tuscany Camp Global Elite Race; picture from Edwin Kosgei 

After landing in the country on 13th April from Sienna, Kosgei could not hide his happiness as we talked through the phone. He had just bettered his marathon personal best time from 2:10:11 to 2:07:51, a time that has now placed him in the top 220 in the World Athletics marathon rankings. If only he wasn’t a Kenyan he probably would now be joining his friend and longtime training partner, Vincent Kipchumba in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic marathon start list.
 “I never knew it was possible!” Kosgei said. 
“All I ever needed was a little bit more perseverance in training, a few more adjustments in the speed workouts we were doing, and believing in myself during the race. In the past, I used to think that the sub-2:08 runners were superhumans in some way and would let them go in a different leading pack, but now I know that it is possible for any runner to run 2:07 with the right focus in training and in racing,” he added. 

For how long can a runner keep training hard without earning from it?


For how long can a runner keep training hard with no guaranteed opportunity to race and earn a living in the near future? This is a question that is now causing sleepless nights to most of the Kenyan runners staying at different training locations in the country after sporting activities were suspended, for a second time since the pandemic struck.

Only forty runners would have won prizes at the Eldoret City Marathon that was also postponed; twenty men and twenty women, but thousands of runners here have been affected so much by its cancelation. To many, it wasn’t just about the prizes, but an opportunity to run good times to enable them to get invitations to future races and to get into any management.

It takes time, resources, and hard work to train for a marathon.

The fact that Eliud Kipchoge will run Hamburg Marathon shows his immense confidence.

Eliud Kipchoge in his farm. Photo from his FaceBook Page

Eliud Kipchoge is already named in the Kenyan Olympic Marathon to represent the country at the Tokyo Olympics later this year. Besides, he is the defending champion of the Olympic men’s marathon. He has absolutely nothing to prove to anyone by participating in the Hamburg marathon. He had the option to skip the Hamburg marathon and just wait for the Olympic marathon race, but he chose to compete and risk being beaten.

Hamburg is where Kipchoge started his marathon career in 2013 and it is such a great coincidence that after his dismal performance at his last race in London, he has chosen to come back again to Hamburg to “start all over again.”

However, unlike when he trained alone ahead of the 2020 London Marathon, this time around, the camps have been opened and he has been lucky to have the same company in training which he had before going for the world record in Berlin.

Kipchoge’s 10-race win streak ended at his last outing, the London Marathon on Oct. 4th last year after he placed eighth, but despite that, he is predicted to be one on the main favorites to win in Hamburg this upcoming April, according to the guys at SportsBettingDime.com

If he comes back and wins the Hamburg Marathon on the 11th of April, fans will easily forget all about his London's 8th place finish. However, it won’t come so easily for him given that the race seems to be the only one offering an opportunity for elite runners to set seasonal best times and meet qualifying times for the Olympics and to sign contracts. There could be many elite runners interested in running.

The NN team, in partnership with the Hamburg Marathon has organized this fast course marathon in order to offer runners an opportunity to run Olympic qualifying standards at a time like this when there are no marathons to run.

Why Kipchoge will run this marathon yet he already has the Olympic Marathon waiting for him, and a status to maintain as the world’s greatest marathon runner ever is probably because he believes in himself.

After all, he was able to run under two hours for the marathon when almost everyone else in the world, including scientists, believed that no human would possibly run under that time.

Kipchoge already proved that “no human is limited” in Vienna, he’ll be simply reminding us the same in Hamburg.

James Willis just ran 72km to mark his 72nd birthday and here is my interview with him.

James Willis in a past race. Photo from his Facebook Page

It is now the second month of my working with James Willis, coaching him under my online coaching programs

As a coach, one would often expect their runners to do slightly better than what they are doing at the moment. Rarely would they find them surpassing their expectations. But, here is one runner who definitely surpasses everyone’s expectations and who should be a great inspiration to many.
James Willis just ran 72 km as he turned 72 years old today (21st January 2021). Most runners would struggle to run 72km in a whole week. To run 72 km in a single day, for a 72-year-old, is just mind-boggling! And, as if that is not enough, he is preparing to run a 168km race in April!

Here is an interview I had with Willis, who is from London, UK, but now lives in Banting, Malaysia; a few days before his birthday run:

1. What inspires you to keep running at your age?

My inspiration to keep running at my age is purely so that I can and still be competitive to some degree. I love running and perhaps one day in the future, when I am no longer competitive, I will just run for pleasure only.

2. How does your life feel when you are running compared to when you had stopped running at some point?

I came to running quite late. I was an all-round sports child, but Rugby was my first love and the only running I did was while training for other sports.

It is quite a story how I first became a runner. Back in the day, it was compulsory for UK secondary schools [11 to 17 years] to hold a cross-country run each year as part of the physical education program.

Well, not being a runner during the first two years I never completed the three-mile event, I and many others would run to a thicket on the course, perhaps half a mile, and hide in there until many of the runners had passed us on their way back and then slip into the bunch for the return journey. Of course, we thought we were so clever.

In year three, now thirteen years old and an accomplished rugby player, things changed.

Mental preparation for race day among Kenyan runners

Wilson Kiprop, the 2010 world half-marathon champion,
versus Bedan Karoki at a local race in Kenya

An athlete may have done enough training to run well in a race, but without the right mentality going into the race, all the training might become useless.

They say that experience is the best teacher, and if there is one place that this applies more, it should definitely be with the mental preparation among Kenyan runners getting ready to run their dream races. Some learn about the best ways to deal mentally with their races through experience while others are taught by a coach or by fellow runners.

One of the runners that have impacted me more on how to be tough and courageous in a race is Wilson Kiprop, the 2010 world half marathon champion. He told me how determined he was to finish in a podium place at a local race before no one ever knew about him. He had never finished in the top ten positions at any big race before. But here, the race meant everything to him. He had no more food where he stayed away from home, no money, and no one to ask for help. He was in Nairobi and he wanted to win some money at the cross country race to enable him to travel back to Eldoret. The race was paying the top three finishers only.

A quick reflection of my online coaching in 2020

Some of the runners I coach training in Kaptagat Forest, Kenya.

2020 has been a year full of many challenges and hard times, but the determination and the results from the runners that I coach online did provide me with some moments to cherish out of what was arguably the worst year for many.

In a world where people are easily being fooled into buying well packaged but useless items, the past year taught me to always offer the best quality in whatever I do and to make sure that my clients get value for their money.

Even when there were no races to run for some, most of my clients nonetheless ran their personal best times in their training runs.

One of them is Terrence. He recently ran some personal best times in some of his training runs, and seeing the effects that my training program had done on him, decided to pay for up to six months of my online coaching in advance. I thought he wanted to do that to get some discount, but instead, he wrote, “Am extremely pleased with the results so far and I believe in value for money. So no further discount required.”

Monaco 5K live streaming video

 

My first track visit this year in Eldoret Kenya

Athletes training at Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret

On a typical track intervals day, a visit to one of the busy tracks in Eldoret, Kapsabet, or Iten is enough to show one the level of competition and the depth of the athletic talents in the country.

At 7:00 AM, it was a cold and cloudy morning in Eldoret on Tuesday the 12th of January 2021. This would usually be a warm, sunny, and dusty morning every other year, but the weather was quite different this time around. With some light clouds blocking the sun, it was good for both the runners who got cool weather to push harder in their intervals and for the photographers who didn’t have to find the right direction to face while taking their pictures.

Most of the tracks in the country had been closed after the social distancing rules were set. But these restrictions have recently been lessened and some sporting activities have begun to be held in the country, and so have the track facilities also been opened for the runners as well.

Judging from the level of the overgrown grass on the field and from the conversations I had with the runners and coaches on the track, it was the first track visit for most of them.

Information on my marathon and long distance running online coaching programs

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

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