What Jairus Birech thinks and plans ahead of the 2017 Diamond League

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The steeplechase is an event virtually owned by Kenyan athletes. Jairus Birech is the athlete that Evan Jager battled in 2014 at the AREVA Paris meeting, where Jager tripped over the last barrier, still running 8:00.12. In that race, Jairus Birech ran 7:58.41, to Jager's 8:00.12. Justin Lagat caught up with Birech this past weekend and the talkative steeplechaser had lots to say!

Birech-Jager-ParisDL15.jpgJairus Birech and Evan Jager, photo by PhotoRun.net

I caught up with one of the fastest all-time steeplechase runners in the world, Jairus Birech. I interviewed Jairus Birech this past weekend, in Eldoret. Birech had some interesting observations to make ahead of the Diamond League races.
Jairus Birech is obviously, an amazing athlete at running the steeplechase. Birech observes other athletes keenly. Birech predicted that Evan Jager was the one athlete who would give Kenyans a hard time in the steeplechase in major championships early in 2015.
Jairus Birech thinks the Diamond League season this year will see faster times in many track events. Birech noted that the increased competition, and faster times, especially the men's 3000m steeplechase races, will be exciting to watch. Birech also thinks that Eliud Kipchoge is serious about his plans to run a sub 2hr marathon and is very likely to do it.
"Even if not many have already come out to speak about going for world records, there seems to be a fiercer competition shaping up among many athletes and desires to go for fast times this year. So far, we have seen women (Mary Keitany and Joyceline Jepkosgei) run world record times from 10km up to the marathon distance," said Jairus.
"The new Diamond League structure that has reduced the number of steeplechase races in a season, and will only invite those leading in points to the final events to win trophies will make the events even more exciting this year, and less exhausting to the steeplechase runners."
Birech said he will not jump any barriers in his training this time round and the first barrier he will jump will be in his first steeplechase race.

"Jumping barriers many times in a year exhausts the body faster than running on the plain track. The fewer races this year will definitely result in faster times. I can't promise that anything will happen in Rome during the first men's steeplechase Diamond League race this year, but I know it is going to be an epic race. Rome is a fast course," said Birech.
Birech recently made some changes in his training and now trains in one group with Ezekiel Kemboi.
"Kemboi is a great leader in our group, with a genuine heart to help each and every athlete in the group to succeed. He provides his truck freely for athletes to go for speed workouts and long runs. He also sponsors a number of athletes to AK track meetings in the country. For example, we are planning on taking a number of athletes to the upcoming track meeting in Nakuru," he said.

Just like many Kenyan athletes who train hard and run clean, the news of some athletes being implicated in doping is upsetting to him. He thinks that if the upcoming athletes would listen to advice from athletes who run clean and have achieved so much without the help of PEDs, then the doping menace can be contained.

"There are some athletes who have the wrong mentality that they cannot succeed without using drugs. Even without any supplements, leave alone PEDs, I was able to win the 3000m SC Diamond League series in 2014 and ran 7:58.41, a time that put me in top ten all-time list. I can't understand why athletes can be cheated by some people to use drugs, yet they can manage to achieve good results with hard training and eating the right food," Jairus said.

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