Eliud Kipchoge: gold, fame and hunger

On a frigid and restless winter morning, a skinny man began to play the violin in one of the Washington subway tunnels. Around him, hundreds of people moved at a frenetic pace towards work. Some children immediately stopped and were immediately pulled by their parents to make them continue the march. Only a few adults agreed to lose a few minutes of contemplation. At the end of his last score the violinist received no applause, only silence and a few dollars. The rushing crowd had squandered the opportunity to hear one of the world’s greatest musicians with a violin priced at a few million dollars. Days before, Joshua Bell had overwhelmed the largest theater in the city with tickets at unaffordable prices.

The incognito performance had been organized by the daily The Washington Postas a social experiment on the concept of success, talent, anonymity, the power of networks and audiovisual media. The test confirmed something that was already known: if you are not on TV and in the cloud, you do not exist. You disappear. You are ground meat of the new modernity. Saving the distances, something similar happened to Eliud Kipchoge in Copenhagen. The Kenyan athlete decided on a Scandinavian afternoon to stretch his legs a bit on a running track near the hotel where he was staying. The venue was teeming with people of all ages and conditions.

After doing a couple of laps around the track, the fastest marathon runner in history realized that no one had recognized him, and consequently, that no one was going to recognize him. “It was a strange and pleasant feeling. This time there would be no autographs.”, he expressed to a European medium. Besides. he recalled that in one of his last laps around the track a pale muscled Viking passed him from the right and in a somewhat stiff English he blurted out: “Come on, you can do it.”

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Fame for Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya 1984) is something fleeting. The athlete leads a spartan life in the humble surroundings of Nandi County, above 2,400 meters in altitude, in the central area of ​​the Riff Valley. He admits that now he runs with the same naturalness as when he was a child, when extreme poverty and an unpredictable future accompanied him everywhere, without deciphering it. The “philosopher”, as they know him (“they called me because they came to interview me, they asked me a lot of questions and I answered”), is a passionate reader and an inordinate humility splashes through his pores, in times that are so distracting and extravagant for him. elite sport.

After the daily training sessions, the athletes accompanying the Kenyan wash their clothes and take turns cleaning the bathrooms. Kipchoge is no exception. “It helps me to be one of the group. And I think it’s good for young athletes too, so they see that this lifestyle helps them succeed.”he expressed. A way of life difficult to imagine in other high-end athletes. Olympic Gold Medalist in 2016, he follows an austere discipline that has allowed him to be the record man for the magic distance of 42.195 kilometers with 2h 1m 39s, in 2018 in Berlin. Kipchoge, recently awarded at the Laureus Awards as the protagonist of the greatest sporting feat of the year, In each race, he squeezes his fine and fibrous body against the limits of man. This penetrating-eyed Kenyan flirts with the feat of lowering the two-hour limit, accompanied by his Olympic gold, and that deep hunger that he lived as a child that helped him run -run non-stop- to reach eternity.

Journalist, former Vélez player, Spanish clubs and 1979 World Champion

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