Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge is spurring young athletes to follow in his footsteps after breaking his own world record Sunday in Berlin.
Cheers erupted from the crowd Sunday at Nairobi’s Karura Forest as they watched Kipchoge race on TV. The watch party followed an amateur marathon organized by the Friends of Karura Forest to celebrate their 25th anniversary.
Karanja Njoroge, a past chairman of the conservation group who serves on its board, called Kipchoge’s win “absolutely magnificent.”
“Everybody went wild,” Njoroge said of the crowd at the watch party. “Seeing the guy was way ahead. Everybody felt so elated by the efforts of our king of athletics, Eliud Kipchoge.”
Kipchoge’s new record, 30 seconds faster than his previous world record set in Berlin in 2018, is now two hours, one minute and nine seconds. Njoroge called it an inspiration.
“I think it encourages people. Gives people hope. And even those who would never compete begin to believe, because this guy is 37 years old and he’s breaking world records,” Njoroge said.
Barnabas Korir, an executive member of Athletics Kenya, the governing body for track and field sports, agreed.
“He’s inspired the youth, but not only the youth but particularly all the athletes from Kenya,” Korir said. “You know Kipchoge is one of the few athletes who is completely determined. He’s also very focused.”
Korir, who is also chairman of youth development at Athletics Kenya, said camps have been set up nationwide to encourage sports.
“We got the support from the government to do that and in the last 3 years, Eliud Kipchoge talk to the athletes when they were in the camps,” Korir said. “So, this is an opportunity for us now to give our athletes a symbol that they can do well if they remain focused, if they work hard.”
Kipchoge has won 15 out of his 17 career marathons, including two Olympic gold medals.
Daniel Schearf contributed to this report.