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Kipchoge broke the marathon world record in Berlin in September
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“No human is limited.”
It could sound like an inane Instagram post from a social media influencer. Coming from the greatest marathon runner of all time it feels anything but.
At the Berlin Marathon last September, Kipchoge set a new world record of two hours, one minute and 39 seconds, an incredible run that took 78 seconds off the previous best. It was the biggest single improvement for over 50 years.
Such a seismic step forward was no surprise. The Kenyan 34-year-old had served notice of his capabilities on 6 May 2017 when he ran 2:00:25 in Monza as part of Nike’s Breaking2 project.
Nobody in history has gone closer to breaking the magical two-hour barrier.
That time is not considered a world best because pacemakers who could swap in and out were used, but while the record books have ignored it, the world at large could not possibly turn a blind eye.
Sixty-three years to the day since Roger Bannister’s historic four-minute mile, running had been changed forever. The conversation had shifted from ‘if’ a two-hour marathon was possible to ‘when’. For Kipchoge – the once-in-a-lifetime athlete responsible for shifting the sporting axis – the burning question is, how?
His answer lies in the power of the mind.
“The mind is what drives a human being,” Kipchoge says. “If you have that belief – pure belief in your heart – that you want to be successful then you can talk to your mind and your mind will control you to be successful.
“My mind is always free. My mind is flexible. That is why I wear this band on my wrist.
“I want to show the world that you can go beyond your thoughts, you can break more than you think you can break.”
About London Marathon
Success in the world of marathon running is a lucrative business. Having won 10 of the 11 marathons he has entered since switching from track to road running in 2013, Kipchoge is a multi-millionaire.
However, money is not the motivation. Kipchoge believes that “living simply sets you free”.
For nearly 300 days a year he lives and trains away from his wife and three children at a simple training centre in Kaptagat, a tiny village in the Kenyan highlands.
Kipchoge was little more than a kid when he began his journey to becoming the greatest male marathon runner of all time.
At the 2003 World Championships in Paris, aged 18, he won 5,000m gold – a breakthrough victory all the more notable for two additional facts.
Firstly the time – a Championship record of 12:52.79 minutes which still stands today. Secondly the identity of the two men he outkicked in the finishing straight – 1500m world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj and future 5,000m world record holder Kenenisa Bekele.
His track career didn’t quite progress as he might have liked from there.
Between 2004 and 2012 he won global medals galore but none of them with gold. Olympic bronze in 2004 was followed by silver in 2008. The only addition to his World Championship collection was a 5,000m silver medal at the 2007 championships in Osaka.
Having failed to even make the Kenyan team for the 2012 Olympics, he switched his focus to the roads. They have since been almost exclusively paved with gold.
Three of those 10 victories so far have come in London and he will start as heavy favourite to become the first man ever to win four on the streets of the English capital this weekend.