Kenenisa Bekele's Bad Day, some thoughts on respecting the distance


Here are my deep thoughts on Kenenisa Bekele's bad day in Dubai. On January 20, Kenenisa Bekele was nearly trampled at the start, a start he was not prepared for at that moment. His race did not go well....

Bekele-KipsangH1a-Berlin16.jpgKenenisa Bekele and Wilson Kipsang, BMW Berlin 2016, photo by

In April 2014, I flew to the City of Love, Paris, to see Kenenisa Bekele run his first marathon. I had seen Bekele race on the track over most of his career.

His debut in Paris was pretty good. His 2:05 was a strong debut. Kenenisa did have some trouble in the last 18, 19 mile area, when he went too fast for a kilometer and had some calve soreness.

I recall the absolute brutality of the final 1600 meters in Paris 2003 in the 10,000 meters. Bekele wanted to not just defeat Haile Gebrseleassie, his famous countrymen, he wanted to destroy him. The final four laps were speedy, body-numbing and brutal. When the last lap came, Kenenisa Bekele put the final punch and won. The glory he had dreamed of, that he had coveted, was his.

Be careful what you wish for.

Last spring, in Manchester, I interviewed Kenenisa Bekele at the Great Run Manchester, after his victory there. Kenenisa had taken third in London, and was pretty irritated by his Federations refusal to make him part of the Olympic squad for Ethiopia. Over the years, Kenenisa Bekele had become a much better communicator in English, and his emotions were clear to see. In fact, Kenenisa wanted me to get his point across, either Ethiopia picked him, or, he would be running another race. When Ethiopia did not pick him for Rio, Bekele went to Berlin.

Bekele was insulted. The World record holder at 5000 meters, and 10,000 meters, a multi-World Cross Country Champion, Bekele was a racer who had endured for over a decade. But, he had had some tough races on the track. The rise of Mo Farah had come as Kenenisa Bekele was waning on the track. The roads whispered to Kenenisa Bekele, and he, like major tracksters before him, tried to have success on the roads. Bekele picked Berlin for his fall marathon. Many would say, Bekele had something to prove to himself.

But, as Haile Gebrselassie and Eliud Kipchoge would tell you, the roads take time as well. Kenenisa Bekele has had to learn to respect the roads as well. After his race in Berlin, I thought he had learnt to respect the marathon.

So, Bekele raced the 2016 BMW Berlin Marathon His battle with Wilson Kipsang over the streets of Berlin was masterful. Wilson Kipsang tried to break Kenenisa Bekele three times, and three times, Bekele came back. Finally, with just about two kilometers to go, Kenenisa Bekele seemed to realize, that he had a chance at the world record. Bekele bore down and just missed the WR by six seconds!

The story after that was that Kenenisa Bekele had learnt, from his training to respect the distance.

Then why, dear readers, did Kenenisa Bekele plan on running two marathons in the first four months of 2017?

Okay, I understand that Kenenisa Bekele has bills too, and atheltic careers are short. But, two marathons in four months, for runners looking at world record, or near world record efforts, are terribly difficut.

Why belitte the efforts at this level?

I am sorry that Kenenisa Bekele was hurt in his attempt to run in Dubai. I hope that he will recover soon, and give us a fine marathon to watch in London.

The marathon distance deserves our respect. Anyone, or just about anyone can run a marathon. It is a whole different concept to race a marathon.

Kenenisa Bekele is one of the few people on the planet Earth who can focus on breaking the world record for the marathon. It will not be a two hour marathon, it will be, probably, broken by ten or twenty, or perhaps, thirty seconds that Mr. Bekele breaks the WR.

I really wish people would stop giving World Records a lack of respect. 2:02:57 is an amazing record.

I want to see a real world record. I will be in London to watch Kenenisa Bekele's and the other elite athletes in the field battle for the top positions, as well as the 40,000 citizen runners cross the city of London.

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