Patrick Sang and Peter Nduhiu hardly like being thrust into the limelight, but these two gentlemen will be facing massive pressure on Saturday.
Sang is world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge’s coach of 19 years while Nduhiu is the Olympic champion’s physiotherapist.
On Friday, as they paced up and down the lobby at the Vienna Marriott Courtyard Hotel, one could hardly see the tension they are enduring.
Together, they were part of Kipchoge’s initial attempt to run the marathon in under two hours in Monza, Italy, two years ago when the Olympic champion fell agonisingly close, just 26 seconds off the mark.
Together, they have regrouped and worked over the two years to see just how to knock off these 26 seconds.
From 9.15am Kenyan time (8.15am Vienna time) Kipchoge will make his second stab at the iconic barrier, backed by a convoy of 41 pacemakers split into six groups.
“The idea to break the two-hour barrier came in 2016 after the Olympics,” Kipchoge explained to journalists on Thursday in his only pre-race interaction with media.
“All limits are set in people’s minds and what I’m trying to do is to remove that ‘click’ from the mind.
“To achieve your goal, you should be physically and mentally fit,” the Olympic champion added.
Sang and Nduhiu are part of a team that’s been pushing to make sure that Kipchoge, 34, is physically and mentally fit.
“We had a long period of preparation, preparing the muscles, taking care of the risks that could bring in injuries and taking care of those little things that could pop up during training and in general making Eliud cope with the training stresses,” Nduhiu, one of Kenya’s leading sports physiotherapists told Nation Sport.
“It is mandatory for a serious sports person or sporting team to have a professional physiotherapist.
“The body is not made up to take all the pounding that occurs, and with sports the stresses are much higher, you expect the body to complain, and you must be ready to address these complaints.”
Nduhiu has been essential in putting up programmes that reduce the chances of Kipchoge picking up injuries and he’s confident that the Kenyan running legend is fit for Saturday’s challenge.
“I’m optimistic that what we have done is enough to carry him through.”
These sentiments are shared by Sang.
“The conditions have been predicted to be good for running,” Sang said Friday.
“We tried in Monza two years ago and came very close. This time, we are crossing our fingers hoping that he will be able to achieve the target.”
Sang thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta and all Kenyans for rallying support for Kipchoge who spent Friday relaxing after a brief morning run.
“Eliud has been resting mostly and looking forward to the event,” Sang added.
“For those who are not familiar with marathon running, in the last few days before a marathon we do what is called “carbo-loading” which is trying to have your body take more carbohydrates because it’s ideal for the energy when you are running the marathon,” Sang explained.
Scores of Kenyan fans arrived in Vienna with Deputy President William Ruto and governors Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) and Stephen Sang (Nandi) leading a strong Kenyan delegation.
Sports Kenya chief Fred Muteti is also in the mix.
Entry to the event is free with about 8,000 fans expected to fill up the tree-lined Hauptallee, a long, straight avenue that runs through the heart of Prater Park in this city famous for bringing forth classic music legends Mozart and Beethoven.
Global records by Kenyans have been set here before with Henry Rono shattering the 10,000 metres world record on the track in 1978, running 27 minutes, 22.5 seconds, then paced by Dutchman Jos Hermens who happens to now be chief executive at Global Sports Communication, the Dutch sports management company that manages Kipchoge.
On Thursday, Rono sent a message of goodwill to Kipchoge from his base in New Mexico, USA.
“Vienna is where records are broken, and Eliud can do it,” Rono, 67, who hails from Kipchoge’s Nandi County, said.
Kipchoge has been running about 200 kilometres a week in training at Kaptagat, an effort he hopes will bear fruit on the Hauptallee.
His wife Grace and children Griffin, Jordon and Lynne are also here to see their head of family make history.