Micah Kogo Finally Here To Do More
Of course we were all shocked by the bombings at the Boston Marathon and our hearts and prayers go out to all those who were harmed, who lost loved ones, and who are still fighting for their lives in the wake of the devastation. After such tragedy it is difficult to focus on the race itself, but I would like to try to highlight one of the athletes who most surprised me at this week’s Boston marathon: Micah Kogo, who gave a great performance. He wasn’t among the athletes that everyone expected to feature. Most Kenyans were actually looking out for Wesley Korir, who is now a member of Kenya’s parliament, and Levi Matebo. But Micah Kogo did surprise. In fact, had it not been for a tactical mistake he made towards the end of the race, he might have actually won it. It was not just right for him to maintain a stable lead in the few kilometers to the finish line while there were two athletes running behind him.
As I sat in a group of athletes at a hotel here in Eldoret watching the event, Sammy Kitwara, who had just jetted back into the country after making it to the podium at the Rotterdam marathon that had taken place a day before the Boston marathon, was the first to get agitated by the mistake. According to him, the two options for Micah Kogo at that stage was for him to immediately burst forward and “die hard,” or to slowly move back a little as if he was about to drop out, then surprise the two athletes by quickly running past them. Looking at how Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda pulled that trick at the London Olympic marathon, I could only agree with him. The late Sammy Wanjiru was actually a master of such tactical moves.
Like both Haile Gebrelassie and Paul Tergat, Micah Kogo has been making a huge impression in a number of middle and long distance events he has participated in as he kept moving up gradually from the 3000m, 5000m, 10,000m, half marathon and now to the full marathon with the same impact almost in all the distances. He began to feature some time in 2005 and immediately made headlines across the world, with most people wondering how an athlete can just come out seemingly from nowhere and begin posting some of the fastest times. He was ranked the world’s number one in the 10,000m event in 2006, barely a year after running his first ever race outside Kenya. He continued winning big races ranging from the 3,000m to the 10,000m in 2007. He represented Kenya at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 where he won a bronze medal. In 2009, he broke a world record at the Parelloop 10km road race.
From 2010 to 2012, he started concentrating more on the road races winning some of the great races across the world that included Laredo 10km Road Race, Trier Silvesterlauf, Beach to Beacon 10k and the Great Birmingham Run half marathon, among others.
After studying how his progressive records are much similar to that of two of the most successful long distance runners of all time (Tergat and Gebre), I can only predict that Kogo’s time to do more in the marathon as well is finally here.
Besides his consistent strong performances throughout the years since he first entered the scene in 2005, and his ability to do well from a wide range of distances, one thing that impresses me more about Kogo is his commitment and self discipline. Unlike other athletes of his caliber, he is always in his training camp and does not waste much time after a major race before resuming his training. I actually visited Pace Sports Management camp some time last year at a time when most of the other athletes were out of the camp, being a Monday, yet he was already there. I spoke with him and he gave me a philosophy he has adopted for his training: “Train hard, win easy,” he told me.
Later on, I also learned from one of my friends who hails from the same village with him that his childhood Christian upbringing is also coincidentally so much similar to that of Paul Tergat. However, while I am not going to attribute the upbringing to great performances in running, I think it definitely has something to do with an athlete staying competitive for many years, in contrast to some who just enter the scene with sterling performances and then disappear shortly after because of scandals, abuse of money and other character related problems.
His first ever marathon performance in Boston was a second surprise to pull out to his fans, the first one being his 26:35 best time in 10,000m at the Brussels IAAF Golden league in 2006. He is now here to do more in the marathon distance and, to me, appears to be the best contender to go for the world record.