Today we saw something incredible, awesome and off-the-chain inspiring when Eliud Kipchoge shattered the two-hour marathon.
To get a sub-two time Kipchoge had to run an average of 2:50 per kilometre: he never dipped below 2:52min per km. He also needed to cover 100metres in 17secs and maintain a speed of 21.1kph (13.1mph). In the last kilometre he actually accelerated and broke the tape in 1:59.40.
Running is viewed as an individual pursuit, yet today’s epic feat amplified how the spirit of the sport is about teamwork and a shared experience.
Kipchoge has spent years under the tutelage of the same coach and manager. As well as an intensely detailed training plan he had a 41-strong interchanging team of pacers who ran in an open V-shaped formation, shielding him from the head wind.
Being world-class athletes in their own right they are no slouches, but today they were devoting their energy towards helping him get over the line.
The thing about running is that it is although you have to want it, put the work in and believe you can do it (like Kipchoge so obviously did) the team around you can make a difference.
The success of today prompted happy thoughts of my own running club and, in particular, when a bunch of us ran a self-navigation marathon together. We weren’t rivals trying to beat one another; we worked together, helped each other in difficult moments and lightened the mood when the going got tough. We ran for ourselves and those around us.
Upon crossing the finish line in Vienna to a roaring crowd, Kipchoge was mobbed by his jubilant pacers. Ever-graceful he is quoted as saying: “we did this one together.”
Teamwork is everywhere in running if you look for it. It offers you the chance to meet like-minded people. It helps you push your own boundaries. It reminds you how extraordinary – and vulnerable – you can be. It connects you to people you’ll want to bundle, Kipchoge-style, after they’ve had an outstanding run.
In my last blog post I admitted there were times when, as my own running performance nose-dived, envy came into play. Since writing that people have acknowledged they’ve been to that place too. PHEW, I thought, for it reminded me that emotions are part and parcel of the personal struggles and victories we all face in our pursuit of improvement.
Running is an amazing sport and I couldn’t do it alone.
“I want to make the sport an interesting sport whereby all humans can run and together we can make this world a beautiful world.” – Eliud Kipchoge