Imagine the man who is milking marathon across the globe used to transport milk on a bicycle to earn his living.
As a teenager Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, Rio Olympics marathon champion, had to bicycle for nearly 20km on the roads of Nandi district in the Rift Valley, to make one dollar a day (Rs 65 app). Kipchoge among the elite foreign runner eyeing Sunday Delhi half marathon title, recalls: “That was the only option I had to earn.”
The job which he managed for over five months inadvertently strengthened his legs and helped him quickly make a mark in the world of running.
After a year of pursuing running seriously, Kipchoge made a huge impact at the Kenyan national trials in 2001. He was 16 then. Two years later, he set the junior world record and became the senior world champion in 5000m.
Kipchoge’s face lights up when you remind him that these days he makes over $100,000 (around Rs 65 lakh) in one race. Since 2014, he has won all the six major marathons he has participated in. “Am luckier than others,” he said.
Running is big in the Rift Valley. Youngsters train hard to compete in the lucrative European and American circuits, but only a few make the grade. “Life is tough. If you aren’t disciplined, it’s difficult to make a good living,” Kipchoge said.
He switched to road racing in 2012 and is currently the third-fastest marathoner (2 hrs 03.05secs) in the world behind countryman Dennis Kimetto (2 hrs 02.57secs) and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele (2hrs 03.03secs).
At 31 Kipchoge is hungry for more. “I have a passion for running. I want to make a big impact,” he said.