Pacemakers’ take: How eye for detail nailed race

Wednesday March 18 2020

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge (white jersey) runs during his attempt to bust the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on October 12, 2019 in Vienna. Kipchoge holds the men's world record for the distance with a time of 2hr 01min 39sec, which he set in the flat Berlin marathon on September 16, 2018. PHOTO | HERBERT NEUBAUER |


The pacemakers who pushed Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge to a historic marathon sub-two hours run of 1:59:40 during the "INEOS 1:59 Challenge" in Vienna, Austria, jetted back on Monday night.

They gave details of how the project became a success. A total of 41 pacemakers drawn from various countries flew to Vienna last month to have a feel of the course and during that period they bonded. They also did thorough rehearsals and practised how they would move in and out of the race.

The pacemakers comprised athletes who specialise in various races from 1,500m to marathon.

One of the pacemakers Augustine Choge, who is also Kipchoge's training mate, said the preparations went well. "I'm happy to be part of the history," he said.

"We had travelled earlier in September and rehearsed our roles. We are happy all went as planned," Choge said.


The pacemakers were guided by a green light that beamed from the lead car, which indicated the pace they were to follow throughout the race.

"We formed a V-shape and we were not supposed to slow down. We maintained the pace all through the race. Our colleagues who were behind Kipchoge were expected to keep the rhythm of the race," Choge said.

"It was a big project. After the race, Kipchoge thanked the entire team of 41 pacemakers and the more than 150 people who gave technical support," said Choge who is under the Global Sports Communications at Kaptagat.

"He wanted to prove to the world that anything is possible when human beings come together and work in unity."

Choge said that he was touched by the big crowd of spectators who turned up in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, to watch Kipchoge running on a big screen.

Another pacemaker, Marius Kipserem said he is more motivated than ever after helping Kipchoge achieve his dream.

"Kipchoge is a strong athlete and I'm happy he managed to hit the mark. He has really inspired me and I am going to work extra hard in other competitions that I will be involved in," said the Abu Dhabi Marathon champion.

Kaan Kigen, who represents Turkey and has been training with Kipchoge, said the marathon record holder has set a good example to the world by unifying people. “He should be emulated,” Kigen said.

Victor Chumo said there was a lot of discipline required in the project and he is inspired. “I feel part of the history made,” he said.

West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo, who welcomed the athletes, asked the national government to improve training facilities which are in a deplorable state.