Coronavirus: Eliud Kipchoge suffers loneliness of the long-distance runner after end of training camp

PARIS (AFP, XINHUA) – When he broke the two-hour barrier for the marathon in October 2019, Eliud Kipchoge did not run alone, but now, as a diary he is recording reveals, he has no choice.

The 35-year Rio Olympic champion may be the only man to have broken two hours over 42.195km but when he set the time in Vienna, he ran with an echelon of pacemakers.

Now, as the first episode of “Eliud Kipchoge’s Isolation Diary” makes clear, he is experiencing the loneliness of the long-distance runner.

The diary, recorded for the BBC, opens with the Kenyan rising from a kitchen chair with his tracksuit and running shoes on.

“It’s now 6 o’clock,” he says.

“This is now the third day since we broke up from the camp due to coronavirus. It’s really hard to train because I value teamwork. It’s mutual interest because it helps me so much.

“I am trying to ‘quarantine’ myself, stay with the family and make sure I don’t actually mingle with a lot of people,” he says.

“I am trying to keep more fit myself and wake up early at 6 o’clock and go for a run and make sure I stay fit,” he adds.

“Good morning,” he adds, waving, turning and heading on his own for open front door.

Outside it is dark and dogs can be heard barking.

On March 13, Kipchoge said he “fully respects” the decision to postpone the London Marathon over the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic. He was informed of the decision to push back the event, which he has won four times, from April 5 to Oct 4 by the organisers minutes before they made the news public that evening.

“It is unfortunate news that the London Marathon has been postponed but I fully respect the decision made by the organisation as safeguarding the health of the world always takes our top priority.

“To the thousands of runners who, with me, have devoted the last months of our lives towards this goal I would like to say: Be proud of the work you have put into this journey, keep smiling and seek your next goal on the horizon to continue running in a smooth and positive way!” the athletics icon wrote on his Twitter handle following the development.

Kipchoge, who trains in the hilly terrain of Kaptagat in the expansive Rift Valley, was winding down his training preparations for the World Marathon Majors race where he was penned as a headline act.

Bidding to become the first five-time winner of the men’s elite race, he was signed up for an epic showdown with Ethiopian distance running superstar, Kenenisa Bekele, the man who came only two seconds short of breaking his 2hr 1min 39sec world record at the 2019 Berlin Marathon.

Kipchoge will now turn his attention to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where he is aiming to become only the third man to win gold back to back, provided the event does not fall victim to the coronavirus threat.

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