The indestructible Kipchoge

Dawn at 6:00 am in Kaptagat, in the Kenyan highlands, above the Rift Valley, at an altitude of more than 2,500 meters. Refreshes at dawn, then good weather all year round. It is the equator. There is the athlete camp of the National Nederlanden Team, Eliud Kipchoge’s team. The marathon totem, double Olympic gold, world record holder (2:01:39), the man who got off two hours in Vienna… and the first to cross the gate of the training camp. On an empty stomach, or after eating a banana. “Jambo (Hello in Swahili)”, greets.

“For more than 20 years training him, he has never questioned a session, or asked. He does everything,” his mentor Patrick Sang, who has guided the phenomenon from scratch, tells AS. Eliud begins a shoot, followed by his entourage (35 athletes live in the camp), and some children who go to school shout: “Kipchoge, Kipchoge!”. It is the idol of Kaptagat and the Eldoret area, the bustling capital in which he has his home, an hour’s drive from the camp. In the zone running is something else. A lifestyle. At all hours there are people with tights and technical shoes. On the verges, on the roads, in the streets …

And Kipchoge, 36, represents what they dream of. Winner of 15 marathons, with a multi-million dollar contract with his brand, he could have long since given up on the Spartan life. “What makes him indestructible is his simple and straightforward life, “explains Sang.. Lives recruited in Kaptagat. From there it does not leave from Monday to Saturday, except for an occasional trip. But distractions and external stimuli, zero.

He runs twice a day (very early in the morning and around 3:00 pm), eats (ugali, rice, meat…) and sleeps. There are weeks when it’s time to clean the bathroom, the trophy room or the dining room. Neither he escapes to shifts, nor does he want to. One Thursday every three months, like everyone in the camp, he has to pay for the great luxury: the round of refreshments. its only privilege, has a single room.

“Simplicity, but everything you need”

“It’s simple, but they have everything they need for maximum performance,” explains Marc Roig, the Spanish ‘infiltrator’ in the NN Team and in the camp, who acts as a man for everything from Global Sports (the representatives of Kipchoge), from physio … He negotiated online the weights of the gym that has a discreet bicycle and treadmill. No technology, the practical reigns.

The series are carried out on a 380-meter dirt track attached to the camp. It was built recently. It was a field that was made an oval and there the best marathoner in history spins at the rhythm. “It has a bit of a hill, but it is our track and we like it that way,” says a boy from the training camp after the 8×1600 (4:40) and 8×400 (1:05) session. Almost 15 kilometers on the ring. This session is on Tuesdays, Sang’s plan is as immovable as it is effective.

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Wednesday is light, 20 kilometers in the morning, exercises, and 10 in the afternoon of easy run. When finished, it is time for African tea. It is prepared by the promising Daniel Mateiko. AND Kipchoge rins his glass and pours himself. “This is my favorite drink and the food I like the most is ugali (a kind of Kenyan gachamiga) “, the wise Eliud laughs, that has before the physios room a quote from Paulo Coelho: “If you want to be successful, respect a rule: ‘Don’t lie to yourself.”

Read, chat and little mobile

Kipchoge reads a lot and is rarely seen with his mobile in his hand. Eliud loves conversation and spends hours chatting on the manicured grass of Kaptagat with friends from the camp such as Brimin Kipruto (Olympic gold in Beijing 2008), Choge, Chumo … “We are a family, this environment of companionship is what makes us better. Eliud is our great inspiration. Seeing how he works serves as an example, “says smiling Geoffrey Kamworor, second leader of the NN Team and double winner in New York.

The big day in Kaptagat is Thursday. The 30-kilometer long race. Kipchoge goes to the camp gate first, as always. But now athletes come from everywhere, from other camps, who live in nearby houses, in the province … It is a ritual. Eliud, arms hunched by the cold, receives them. Many greet timidly and Sang gives the exit, gets into the jeep and follows the whole race of his disciples. First they go 50, then 30, 10 and until there are four left. Kipchoge, his colleagues Kacheran and Kipchumba and a neighboring athlete. It takes 1h38, at 3:16 per km, with some steps made at almost 3,000 altitude and on hard roads, with steep slopes, in which the ankles are made of iron. For this reason, on asphalt at sea level … it sweeps.

After that session Kipchoge smiles, he has removed the great challenge of the week. Then on Friday he will do a double session, on Saturday the fartlek and take his smoked glass Isuzu SUV to see his wife Grace and Lynne, Griffin and Jordon, their three children. Sometimes they go to see the tea plantation. It is the moment to relax, because on Monday it is time to return to the camp. Patrick Sang and the companions await… Simplicity, discipline of steel and talent… It is Eliud Kipchoge.

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