The rabbits pushing Kipchoge to world history books

Friday October 11 2019

Forty one athletes will act as pacesetters for world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge as he attempts to become the first human being to run the marathon under two hours during "INEOS 1:59 Challenge" in Vienna, Austria on Saturday.

From the list of 41, there are 15 Kenyans, seven Americans, six Ugandans, four Australians, three Norwegians brothers, two Ethiopians, one Turk, one Kazakh, one Japanese and a Swiss national. It's a strong field boasting athletes who have posted good performances in their specialities.

Some of them are fresh from competing in the recently concluded IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

onald Musagala, Ronald Kwemoi, Stewart McSweyn, Filip Ingebrigtsen, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Matthew Centrowitz, Filip Ingebrigtsen, Henrik Ingebrigtsen, Selemon Barega, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Julien Wanders, Stanley Kebenei and Hillary Bor were all in Doha.

The 41 rabbits will all play a crucial role in pacing Kipchoge to the historic time as planned by the organisers.

Here, Nation Sport presents what you need to know about the men Kipchoge is banking on to achieve his goal that he missed by 26 seconds in his first attempt dubbed "Breaking2" in Monza, Italy in 2017.


Thomas Ayeko (Uganda)
The 27-year-old has a half marathon personal best of 60:26 he posted in Copenhagen in 2016. He is the current 10,000m champion in Uganda.

Selemon Barega (Ethiopia)

This 19-year-old holds the 5000 metres World Under-20 Record of 12 minutes, 43.02 seconds from Brussels 2018. He comes into the INEOS 1:59 Challenge boasting of bagging a silver at the Doha World Championship on September 30.

Emmanuel Bett (Kenya)

At 34 years old, Bett is still strong to provide some fast times needed for his age-mate Kipchoge to gobble the 42km under two hours. He has a 10,000m personal best of 26:51:16 - the fastest time run over that distance in 2012.

Hillary Bor (USA)

Born in Eldoret 29 years ago, Bor switched allegiance by joining the United States Army a few years ago. The American 3,000m steeplechase champion finished eighth in the same event at just-finished Doha World Championships where Kenyan Conseslus Kipruto triumphed.

Mande Bushendich (Uganda)

The 22-year-old has a 10km personal best of 27:24 set in Madrid, Spain. He also boasts of a PB of 27:57:72 for 10,000m on the track.

Matthew Centrowitz (USA)

Centrowitz, 29, is one of the most decorated middle-distance runners of his generation and is the current Olympic 1500m champion.

Paul Chelimo (USA)

This Kenyan-born American won a silver medal in the 5000m at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and a bronze medal in the 12.5 laps race at the World Championships in London in 2017.

Augustine Choge (Kenya)

Choge, 32, is one of Eliud Kipchoge’s best friends and one of his training partners in the Global Sports Communication (GSC) group. He boasts of 59 minutes, 26 seconds in half-marathon posted in Ras Khaimah in 2017.

Victor Chumo (Kenya)

His personal best in half-marathon is 1:00:03 that he ran in Lille in 2018. The 32-year-old is also Kipchoge’s training partner.


Ingrebrigtsen brothers – Filip, Henrik & Jakob (Norway)

The three took part in 5,000m in Doha World Championships. They reached the final, but unfortunately it was tough for them as Jakob and Henrik finished in positions five and 13 respectively, while Filip registered a DNF. Jakob,19, is a European champion in 1,500m and 5,000m, Henrik,28, bagged bronze in 3,000m at the 2019 European Indoor Championships, while Filip,26, is the 2018 European Cross Country champion.

Philemon Kacheran (Kenya)

Kacheran, 27, has a marathon personal best of 2:07:12 registered at the Barcelona Marathon in March this year. He is one of Kipchoge's training partners.

Stanley Kebenei (USA)

The 29-year-old Kenyan-born American finished 10th in 3,000m steeplechase at the Doha World Championships.

Justus Kimutai (Kenya)

Kimutai, 26, won the Lanzhou International Marathon in China in June this year in a time of 2:11:47.

Shadrack Kipchirchir (USA)

Kipchirchir is another Kenyan-born American. The 30-year-old clocked 27 minutes, 24.74 seconds as he finished in position 10 in 10,000m at the Doha World Championships.

Noah Kipkemboi (Kenya)

This 26-year-old Kenyan is experienced pacemaker and was one of the pacers at this year’s Tokyo Marathon. He also paced for Joshua Cheptegei at the seven hills race in 2018, when Cheptegei broke the 15km world record.

Gideon Kipketer (Kenya)

Kipketer, 26, has a marathon personal best of 2:05:51 which he set in finishing second in the Tokyo Marathon in 2017.


Jacob Kiplimo (Uganda)

Kiplimo, 25, has set the fastest 10km time in history while bagging the San Silvestre Vallecana title in 26 minutes, 54 seconds in Spain in 2018. He broke Eliud Kipchoge’s record at the San Silvestre Vallecana which had stood since 2006, by 13 seconds.

Marius Kipserem (Kenya)

Kipserem, 31, is a two-time Rotterdam Marathon champion.

Eric Kiptanui (Kenya)

The 29-year-old won the Berlin and Barcelona half-marathons in 2018 and is the current Lisbon Half Marathon winner.

Moses Koech (Kenya)

Koech, 22, has a 10km personal best of 27:46 which he set in finishing third in the Durban last year behind Joshua Cheptegei and Julien Wanders.

Shadrack Koech (Kazakhstan)

Kenyan-born Koech, 19, won this year’s Appingedam 10km in the Netherlands in a personal best (PB) time of 28:22.

Micah Kogo (Kenya)

This 33-year-old is a former world record holder for the 10km on the road, setting a time of 27:01 in Brunssum (Netherlands) in 2009.

Alex Korio (Kenya)

Korio, 28, won the Beach to Beacon 10km in Cape Elizabeth, USA, this August in a personal best time of 27:34 which is the seventh fastest time in the world this year.

Jonathan Korir (Kenya)

Korir, 32, has a marathon personal best of 2:06:51 set in Amsterdam in 2018.

Ronald Kwemoi (Kenya)

The 24-year-old runner is the world junior (under-20) record holder for 1500m with a time of 3:28:21. He set the record during the Monaco Diamond League in 2014.


Bernard Lagat (USA)

Lagat was one of the pacemakers for Kipchoge’s last attempt to run sub-two hours in the Breaking2 project. At 44, he is the oldest member of the pace-making team.

Lopez Lomong (USA)

The 34-year-old South Sudan-born runner was part of Kipchoge’s pacing team in the Breaking2 attempt in Monza in 2017.

Abdalah Mande (Uganda)

Mande, 24, ran a personal best 10km time of 27:35 to win the 10KM de Port-Gentil in Gabon in June.

Stewart Mcsweyn (Australia)

Mcsweyn,24, ran in 1,500m at the Doha World Championships.

Kota Murayama (Japan)

Murayama, 26, has a 10,000m PB of 27:29:69.

Ronald Musagala (Uganda)

Although he was knocked out in semi-final stage at the Doha World Championship in 1,500m, Musagala, 26, is of the best middle-distance runners in the world in the three-lap race.

Kaan Kigen Ozbilen (Turkey)

Born in Kenya 33 years ago, Ozbilen holds national records for Turkey at both half marathon (59:48) and the marathon (2:05:27)

Jack Rayner (Australia)

The 23-year-old is winner of the inaugural Commonwealth Half Marathon in Cardiff.

Chala Regassa (Ethiopia)

Regassa,22, won the 10K Valencia Ibercaja in January in a course record time of 27:23 which was the sixth fastest time in the world this year.

Brett Robinson (Australia)

The 28-year-old Australian has won the Melbourne Half Marathon on three occasions and reached the final of the 5000m at the 2016 Olympics.


Nicholas Rotich (Kenya)

He is part of Eliud Kipchoge’s training group. Rotich, 22, has experience of racing in Vienna. He finished fourth in the Vienna City Marathon in 2018.

Patrick Tiernan (Australia)

Tiernan,25, is one of Australia’s leading distance runners.

Timothy Toroitch (Uganda)

Toroitich, 27, had an impressive 2018 when he won a bronze medal in the 10000m at the African Championships.

Julien Wanders (Switzerland)\

Based in Kenya for much of the year, Wanders, 23, is the European record holder for both the half marathon (59:13) and 10km (27:25). He also holds the world 5km record (13:29) which he set in Monaco earlier this year.