It has been a three-month journey of working with partners to support vulnerable athletes during the coronavirus pandemic period.
But for world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchpoge, the focus now is on the London Marathon on October 4.
Yesterday, Kipchoge, while distributing food to 300 vulnerable athletes in Iten through a partnership between ABSA Bank Kenya and his Eliud Kipchoge Foundation, the world champion said he is prepared for the epic race against Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele – the world’s second-fastest marathoner.
Kipchoge, the reigning London Marathon champion described the October race as unique, given that there will be no fans along the course as it has traditionally been.
He said the London marathon which was scheduled for April 26 will inspire hope among athletes.
“London marathon returns on October 4 and I’m happy to go back to running there although it will be different this time because there will be no masses to cheer us on,” Kipchoge, who will be seeking a fifth win in London said.
He clinched the titles in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 in spectacular cruises.
“London will show people across the world that we have been training,” he said.
On whether he will attempt to break his record in London, Kipchoge said: “I am going to try to win in London. I am not going for anything special – winning will be special for me.”
He will be taking the 2019 INEOS challenge time of 1:59:40, the 2018 2:01:39 world record to start line, while Bekele will be taking to the mouth-watering London race, his 2:01:41 2019 Berlin Marathon winning time.
Kipchoge said he has struck a balance between his Eliud Kipchoge Foundation activities and training.
“Training is daily and charity work an on-and-off activity. It is a matter of creating time and knowing what you are doing,” he said.
He thanked partners who have been supporting his foundation, enabling it to distribute food and basic items including sanitary towels to budding runners in various training bases.
Kipchoge urged athletes to train hard despite the Covid-19 restrictions, which have limited interactions among them.
“I trust that they (athletes) have been training well. It has been a long journey and we have been helping those who have been working hard, but vulnerable during this period,” Kipchoge who was accompanied by his coach Patrick sang said.
Athletes’ earnings dipped following cancellation and postponement of local and international races.
Nearly 900 budding athletes benefitted from the food donations offered in the ABSA-Eliud Kipchoge Foundation in Iten, Kaptagat and Kapsabet training bases.
ABSA Kenya country strategy director Moses Muthui said the bank will continue partnering with the foundation to support vulnerable sportsmen and women.
“We can’t be successful when our athletes are not. We hope to pursue a bigger partnership with Eliud,” Muthui said.
He called for more partnership from corporates to enable the foundation support more athletes.
“It is a very difficult time for athletes. Restrictions have made it difficult for them to earn from the sport,” he added.
Among the athletes who benefitted from the food donations is Amresh Durrell, an Indian 5,000m and 10,000m athlete who has been training in Iten for the past six months.
Durrell, 17, said it was the third time in three months he was receiving food donations from the Eliud Kipchoge Foundation.
“We appreciate Eliud and the foundation for the support. I came to Iten to train and was caught up by travel restrictions and I am happy help came my way,” he said.