Deputy President William Ruto is expected to lead Kenyan dignitaries to cheer world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge as he battles to break the two-hour marathon barrier on Saturday.
Also expected are North Rift governors Stephen Sang (Nandi) and Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) as the world prepares to see Kenya’s Olympic champion toy with history.
Ruto, who cancelled a weekend rally earlier planned for Nakuru, made the announcement on Thursday evening in Nakuru, at the home of his close ally, Bahati Member of Parliament Kimani Ngunjiri.
Dr Ruto was on his way from Malinya, in Kakamega County, where he had visited the home of former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale to console him and the family following the death of his first wife, Adelaide.
“Mimi nilikuwa ninatamani sana kufika hapa Jumamosi, poleni sana sitaweza kufika, kwa sababu nitakuwa pale Vienna, Austria nikiwakilisha serikali ya Kenya katika kumpa motisha mwanariadha Eliud Kipchoge ambaye anataka kuunda historia…( I was planning to visit Nakuru this weekend , but I will be travelling to Vienna in Austria to represent President Uhuru Kenyatta in cheering and encouraging our very own Eliud Kipchoge as he makes history,” stated Dr Ruto.
Initially, the “INEOS 1:59 Challenge” would have been held in England, but the logistical nightmare of closing down sections of a big city were too ghastly to contemplate.
Also, Vienna offered a better course and near perfect weather conditions for the Kenyan legend to make his attempt.
The average Austrian on the streets here is aware about the challenge, with Kipchoge having played a public relations role for Kenya that would make the Ministry of Tourism and Brand Kenya rub their hands with glee.
Since the start of this week, there has been increased interest among the western media on Kipchoge’s attempt.
There’s a mini carnival atmosphere of sorts at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel here where Kipchoge and his support staff are staying, including the 41 pacesetters, members of the INEOS team, coaches, nutritionists, physiotherapists, doctors, athlete managers and other officials.
INEOS, a British oil and gas firm, has shipped in a mobile media centre that will accommodate over 60 journalists accredited for the race, with strict guidelines issued to the reporters, photographers and camera crews.
At Thursday’s press conference, photography was prohibited as Kipchoge addressed the media, with only selected photographers allowed to click their cameras.
Such is the bubble around Kipchoge who is being treated like royalty here, and deservedly so.