Former world marathon record holders Paul Tergat and Patrick Makau have tipped Eliud Kipchoge to beat the two-hour mark at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna Saturday morning.
Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei and Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed also predicted Kipchoge will achieve the historic feat.
Kipchoge, the Olympic marathon champion, will be making a second attempt at running a marathon under two hours after coming short in 2017 by 26 seconds during the Nike Breaking2 in Monza, Italy.
Tergat, who is the first man to have run a full marathon under two hours and 05 minutes, said Kipchoge’s self-belief and determination will deliver the feat.
“He is going to do it! Just leave alone running 1:59:58, Eliud will run 1:58,” said Tergat, who made history as the first Kenyan to own a marathon world record when winning in Berlin in 2:04:55 on September 28, 2003. The record came a month after Kipchoge won the World 5,000m title aged 19.
“No one believed that anyone would ever run under two hours and five minutes but I proved them wrong since I was brave, bold and strong mentally and physically,” said Tergat, who shattered Khalid Khannouchi’s four-year old WR of 2:05:38.
Tergat said Kenyans have always been unstoppable if they want to achieve something because of their self-belief. “Do it man! It’s the right thing to do! It’s your moment Eliud!” Tergat said from Doha where he is attending the World Beach Games.
Makau, who set the then world record of 2:03:38 at 2011 Berlin Marathon, said Kipchoge will definitely do it considering the fine set up by the organisers of the race. “It’s a well-choreographed race where every detail is taken care of. The confidence and strong mental frame that Kipchoge has is what will beat the challenge," said Makau.
However, Makau said it will take long for an athlete to run under two hours under normal circumstances. “Pacesetters and conditions are not tailored in a normal race. You battle each other here,” said Makau.
Tuwei said the courage, training and support that revolved around the race preparations will drive Kipchoge to under two hours. “The most important aspect of the game is that the athlete is mentally and physically ready,” said Tuwei.
“As mothers, we stay at home and leave our sons go to battle. We then wait to welcome our victorious sons. Kipchoge will be victorious and we shall welcome him back home,” said Mohammed.
Mohammed said that she hosted Kipchoge and the rest of Team Kenya for dinner at her diplomatic residence after he had won the World 5,000m title in France in 2003. “Kipchoge actually reminded me in London this year when he won the race in April,” said Mohammed. “We can’t take it for granted what Kipchoge has achieved and we thank God for him.”