Andy Edwards is writing for RunBlogRun a text piece each day of the London Pressers. Andy wanted to give the readers a bit of a feel for the London pressers. Thank god, the athletes do have different personalities, from zen Master Eliud Kipchoge, to WR holder, wants some respect Kenenisa Bekele, and Daniel Wanjiru, last year’s winner.
I always loved the pressers at London. Lots of geek information and access to many of the finest athletes in the world.
Psychological strength as important for Eliud Kipchoge as physical while Kenenise Bekele says marathon training can be both boring and challenging as the elite men assemble for Virgin Money London Marathon
By Andy Edwards, Race News Service
London, Thursday, April 19
The quartet presented for the elite men’s press conference on Thursday at the Tower Hotel would have done credit to any casting director. We had before us the Olympic Marathon champion, Eliud Kipchoge, as ever radiating the calm of a smiling Buddha with relaxed concentration to match and Kenenisa Bekele emphasizing that his desire was as strong as ever, intent upon going one better than London in 2017 when he finished runner-up to the man next to him on stage, Kenya’s Daniel Wanjiru.
As for the latter, he appeared to follow the classic East African mode of being unfazed by any of the bigger names around him, he won here in 2017 and he was ready: “I always believe in myself and that what I’ve done in my training is perfect so what I say to my fellow athletes is, let’s go and compete and each believe in his own training.” He rejected a suggestion in a one to one interview later that victory in 2:05:48 12 months ago brought extra pressure: “For me, life has not changed much, it’s only a matter of life improvement because I have to do some family duties because of what I got in London. What I’m looking for is to defend my title and to do a good time and do more marathons.”
The fourth member of the quartet, Ethiopian Guye Adola, also appeared to be a fully paid-up member of the “Nothing fazes me” club. It’s still a struggle to credit how he emerged to prove Eliud Kipchoge’s closest rival in last September’s Berlin Marathon, finishing second in 2:03:46 and making a faster marathon debut than Haile Gebrselassie. The 2014 World Half Marathon bonze medallist’s description of his first taste of the marathon? “My debut was very nice.”
A gut response to the comments on stage and subsequently is that Eliud Kipchoge remains the man to beat. Unbeaten in all but one of his ten marathons, the Olympic champion appeared as relaxed and confident as ever, mind and body ready for the fray: “Mental is as important as physical, they share, 50/50. You cannot be physically fit and psychologically poor. He and coach Patrick Sang, the latter Olympic steeplechase silver medallist in 1992, are in as close a harmony as ever: “He’s really very important, he’s my life coach and my sports coach.”
Question marks have been raised about Kenenisa Bekele’s ability to remain committed to the top flight, given that he dropped out of the Dubai Marathon this January and Berlin last September. It is a year since he chased Daniel Wanjiru home in London, finishing in 2:05:57 and the 35-year-old believes he is back on track: “Last year [in London] was a great race but I didn’t make it – three weeks before the race I was a little sick and lost a week of training. Everything has gone well for this year’s race and I’m really happy.”
Bekele acknowledged the grind aspect of staying at the top but balances that with a structured approach: “It’s not harder now. If you plan something, if you have a target to achieve something. I have motivation every time, my motivation is not going down. Of course, even if marathon training is a little bit boring and very challenging, I’m motivated.”
The abiding impression of the elite men’s press conference was the glint in Eliud Kipchoge’s eye when asked to look ahead to Sunday’s race, talk of victory and world records: “I can project that Sunday we will have a beautiful race, a very beautiful race.”