Justin Lagat wrote this piece, and his feelings about the Zen master give the reader a further appreciation for the greatest marathoner of all times.
In running, there are distances that are simply sprinted at full speed, like the 100m and the 200m. The middle distances on the track are run, while the longer distances seem to have some elements of mind games to be played in them.
Watching the men’s marathon on the last day of athletics in Tokyo, one would aptly come to a conclusion that a marathon is perhaps a game to be played mentally and physically, and is not just a race to be merely run. There is some level of gambling with the weather conditions, and calculating the right moments to make the right moves. One should know when to have a little chat with their fellow competitors and when to look serious and focus; when to still rally their teammates together and when to leave them behind and go alone; when to still wait and when to make a definite break for the win.
The master, and the greatest marathon runner of all time, Eliud Kipchoge demonstrated all these to defend his Olympic title in the tough weather conditions in Sapporo.
Warm and humid conditions saw 30 out of the 106 runners who started the marathon dropping out, one after the other. At 12km, 2012 Olympic champion from Uganda, Stephen Kiprotich stopped, walked a little, tried running again, then walked to the side of the road.
The possibility of a 1-2-3 finish for the Kenyan runners could not be far-fetched as the three led the rest as they came to the 30km mark. Just after that, Kipchoge increased the pace a little at the pack of about 11 runners suddenly strung out in a single file behind him.
At the 35km point, Kipchoge was already 27 seconds ahead of a chasing pack of four runners; Lawrence Cherono of Kenya, Ayad Lamdessem of Spain, Bashir Abdi of Belgium and Abdi Nagaayi of the Netherlands. The other Kenyan, Amos Kipruto began to fade before he was spotted stopping and having a chat with a Kenyan official at a drink station.
Kipchoge continued to extend the gap at the front to comfortably win the gold medal in 2:08:38 in a huge margin of 1 minute and 20 seconds from his second competitor. With a few meters to the finish, Nagaayi led Bashir in overtaking Cherono to win silver and bronze medals in 2:09:58 and 2:10:00 respectively. Cherono missed the medal bracket by two seconds.