I first learnt about marathons when I went to watch the inaugural Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon in 2004 with dad. I took the Mumbai local to Churchgate early that morning and walked to the finish line near CST to watch atheles cross the finish line.
I was mind-blown when I saw the route in the Times of India the day before. It took the runners through some of my favorite parts of Bombay: the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, the Worli Seaface, the Queen’s necklace. The 10-year-old me could barely understand what the race was or the distance meant, but I could feel that it was a lot. “They run all the way to Bandra from Churchgate? The one I would only travel by train? And back?! How? People could run that distance across Bombay?” I wondered then. I still do.
It has been 17 years since that Sunday morning, and I have passively followed the 42km race. It has always felt like a humbling challenge for the human mind and body. And I have serious respect for the people that can run it.
A few years ago, I learnt about Eliud Kipchoge, his achievements and how he was transforming the sport. And ever since, he has been a huge inspiration. It is astounding what he has achieved so far, as a marathoner, yes, but also as an athelete. To me, he is one among the greatest atheletes of their sports of all-time. You know, right there with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher, Magnus Carlsen…
One of the (I’d argue the) greatest moments of Kipchoge’s marathon career was him running a sub-2 hour marathon (albeit in a controlled setting) in Vienna in 2019. Take 4 minutes, watch the final kilometer of his run.
I just read this profile on Kipchoge by Cathal Dennehy, and thought it was a beautiful look at his personality, training regime, and principles. It gave me a new perspective on some things, but also let me appreciate him more as a person and admire his achievements a little more. My favorite part from the profile was on the peace he exudes while running (which one can even see in the video):
It’s difficult to find a sportsperson so impossibly suited to his craft, as if his entire reason for being is to coast over the ground at 4:40 per mile, a pace that for most would feel like a sprint.
But when Kipchoge does it, his head has virtually no vertical motion, his face so relaxed that he looks bored. His arms hang loose, swinging casually, his fingers in a gentle tuck, as if holding an invisible stick. His feet don’t so much hit the ground as stroke it, his toes pushing off the road with the elegant, balletic grace of a dancer.
I think Kipchoge will break the world record and run a 2-hour marathon before he retires. I’m rooting for him.