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Eliud Kipchoge ready to "take the sport to another level" - Patrick Sang

Eliud Kipchoge’s lifelong coach Patrick Sang believes his athlete is well prepared to achieve greatness and “take the sport to another level” in Saturday’s INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna.

Sang, who has worked with Eliud since the very beginning of his running career in 2001, was speaking at an official INEOS 1:59 Challenge press call, alongside three pacemakers; Kenyan-born American and former world 1500m and 5000m champion Bernard Lagat, European half-marathon record-holder Julien Wanders and Norway’s former European 1500m champion Henrik Ingebrigtsen.

Tomorrow Eliud – in the Austrian capital city - will attempt to become the first person in history to run a sub-two-hour marathon and Patrick believes his long-time charge is poised to achieve his ambitions.

“To run 2:00:25 (as part of the Breaking2 project) was much less of a defeat,” he explains. “Now you can see many athletes are running 2:02 and 2:03 for the marathon. We have also seen one person run 2:01 recently (Kenenisa Bekele ran 2:01:41 at the Berlin Marathon in September two seconds slower than Eliud’s world record mark).

“This is a clear indication we are improving every day and athletes are feeling much more confident. Eliud is someone who has knocked close at the door and believes he can do it.”

Bernard Lagat, 44, a former two-time Olympic 1500m medallist, is a former childhood neighbour to Eliud and his family.

Over time he seen Eliud develop from a world-class track and cross country runner into the greatest marathon running in history and he has been overwhelmed at his accomplishments.

“What Eliud did in Monza by recording 2:00:25 – just 26 seconds off a sub-two-hour time inspired me so much,” he recalls. “To be in this exciting era (for the sport) with Eliud making history is very special. When I was at college the world record was 2:05 now to beat Eliud you need to be running 2:01 or 2:02.”

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Bernard, who in July set a US masters marathon record of 2:12:10, will be the team captain of one a number of pacemaking groups to assist Eliud in his historic bid.

His plans it to maintain a good mood among his team and act as a positive support aid in their critical role.

“We don’t consider ourselves as pacemakers, we consider ourselves as helping a friend,” explains Bernard. “I’ll do my best to keep their (the pacemakers) spirits up. We all have to think of is as just another event and we have to believe everything will go according to plan. I intend to go into this with a big smile on my face and not a frown.”

Patrick, who grew up less than 2km from Eliud, also praised the role the pacemakers will play tomorrow.

“All 41 pacemakers here are athletes in their own right,” he explains. “To me this presents a different picture of the sport, it is a unifying factor and this story will go to all four corners of the world. To go even one second under the two hours will be sufficient to go to the next level and inspire other people.

Henrik Ingebrigtsen, another of the designated pacemaking captains insists the legacy of what Eliud hopes to achieve will be of incalculable benefit.

“I don’t see the event as a competition we are helping Eliud to help the sport,” explains Henrik. “Eliud is not doing this for himself. He wants the marathon to be a better event. We are all here to make the sport grow and make it even better.”

Yet the final word belonged to Patrick who talked about the unique qualities that Eliud possesses.

“My role started as that of a parent to a small kid,” he explains of his role with Eliud. “You set that small kid on the right path but I think much of what we see with Eliud is inbuilt – my role is just enhancing what we already see.”

“He is one of the rare ones. He has a good character, he is talented with a mental strength to think beyond (the norm). His fighting spirit is unbelievable.”


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