Eliud Kipchoge in London. Whats next?

 

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How do you follow up a 2:01:39 marathon? What should we expect from Eliud Kipchoge in his first race since the astonishing world record run in Berlin in September 2018 when he lines up in the London Marathon on April 28th 2019. In Berlin Kipchoge climbed the marathoners Mt Everest and then some, it’ll be interesting to see what his next race shows.

There are a few possibilities in how the race unfolds for him, we will presume he has trained well and in similar shape to that at Berlin. Its a safe presumption as Kipchoge has been in brilliant marathon form over the past 4-5 years. Undefeated and rarely challenged for victory his efforts have been so supreme.

Kipchoge has won in London three times in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Missing the race in 2017 to take part in the Nike Breaking 2 project. In the 2016 race he set the current course record of 2:03:05 which on that day fell agonisingly 8 seconds short of the then world record held by Dennis Kimetto. Victory this year would make Kipchoge the races first four time winner, something that seems inevitable even with a deep world class field entered. Media will likely centre around a duel with Britain’s Mo Farah or former world record holder Wilson Kipsang but neither appear to be a match. Farah’s personal best of 2:05:11 is far from competitive with Kipchoge and Kipsang was 5 minutes behind in Berlin and hasn’t been able to reproduce his best running since breaking the world record in 2016.

If Kipchoge is to be challenged in London it’ll likely be the clock and his search for further marathon immortality which poses the greatest challenge. How close then the great man come to the 2 hour mark, and can this be done in London. Comparing his Berlin world record with his 2016 London course record indicates it’s possible.

In London’s 2016 course record 2:03:05 Kipchoge broke the 30km world record in 1:27:13 or 2:54 min/km. In Berlin’s 2:01:39 he bettered this mark to 1:26:45 going through 28 sec faster. In Berlin he was able to run the remaining 12.2km astonishingly 58 sec faster than London 2016. These last 12.2km were run completely solo, he didn’t have a pacemaker that could stay with him to this point. If Kipchoge is to better his own world record he will almost certainly have to run from 25-30km to the finish solo again. He will need to lower his 30km world record again to go faster and quite simply there isn’t a human on the planet that can that far with him.

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If Kipchoge is improve on his world record he has a blueprint from Berlin. The consistency and accuracy of his pacing was metronomic and simply a masterclass, if he can reproduce pacing of this quality he will give himself a chance at bettering his 2:01:39. Losing another 100 sec to go under 2 hours though may be a bridge too far even for a man this great.

Kipchoge joked after Berlin that he hadn’t yet run a 2:02 marathon and this may be his next goal. If he achieved this in London it’d still be an amazing run. To date only Dennis Kimetto has ever run a 2:02 marathon.

While money is an obvious and a deserving reward for a runner of this quality I get the feeling Kipchoge wants more than the financial riches that go with being the greatest marathoner in history. At 34 years old Kipchoge realistically has 3-4 years at the very top of his sport and although his place in history is assured he may just want more. What ever the result in London, Kipchoge’s first appearance since Berlin promises to be intriguing and the must watch marathon of the year.

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