Athletics

Eliud Kipchoge: Seven things you didn't know about the marathon world record holder 

Runner, father, farmer, record-breaker, Kelly Clarkson fan: Find out some fascinating facts about Kenya's marathon man

By Ken Browne ·

Eliud Kipchoge is the reigning Olympic marathon champion, the world record holder, and the only man ever to run a sub-two hour marathon.

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1. Eliud Kipchoge loves Kelly Clarkson

A couple of years ago SportPesa News did a 'day-in-the-life' feature on Kipchoge where they asked him who his favourite musician is.

“I’m not a big fan of music, but sometimes I listen to Kelly Clarkson," said Kenya's national hero.

His go-to song from the 2002 American Idol winner is her 2011 hit 'Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)'.

"She sang a beautiful and strong song, ‘What cannot kill you can only make you stronger,’ that is the best among my favorite songs,” Kipchoge said in the article.

2. Eliud Kipchoge was a milkman

Born the youngest of five children, Kipchoge has no memory of his father as he died when he was very young, Eliud and his brothers were raised by his mother, a nursery school teacher.

Thanks mainly to his mother's struggles Kipchoge graduated from Kaptel Secondary School (High school) in 1999.

His first job was to collect milk from the local villagers and cycle 20km to Kapsabet town, he was paid one Kenyan shilling (Less than 1US$) for every litre transported. The future Olympic champion saved for five months to buy his first pair of running shoes.

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3. Eliud Kipchoge loves reading

Kipchoge is an avid reader and his favourite book is 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.'

"There are no more loyal friends in the world than books," Kipchoge told World Athletics in October 2019, "they have been a source of pleasure for me, allowed me to understand the world better and helped me grow as a person."

"My interest really started after reading some short stories in 2005. I enjoyed what I learned from reading books and decided that I should spend more time in training camp reading books rather than watching TV.

"I never read fiction, I prefer motivational and business books and autobiographies. I try to read for one hour every afternoon and then another hour after supper, before bed.

"I am a big fan of the writer Stephen R. Covey. I like his books, particularly The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His books have taught me so much. They have instilled in me the importance of working hard, treating your profession as seriously as you can and how to live alongside people."

Steven Covey's 1998 self-help book has sold over 25 million copies worldwide and the way it presents the importance of principles and values chimes with the way humble superstar Kipchoge lives his life.

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4. Kipchoge loves Formula 1 & Lewis Hamilton

While Kipchoge's speed over 42 kilometres is legendary he likes to watch F1 motor racing stars rip it up on the track too.

His favourite driver is Lewis Hamilton and he loves the Mercedes team.

“Lewis Hamilton inspires me by going at 300km per hour, for 70 laps, and his mind doesn’t get tired," Kipchoge said just before his successful sub-two attempt.

“F1 teaches me concentration. You can’t defer your mind on the road.”

Eliud Kipchoge and Lewis Hamilton speak after the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year awards on February 17, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

5. Kipchoge's mother taught coach Patrick Sang

One of the most important people in Eliud Kipchoge's life is his coach Patrick Sang.

Coach won a silver medal in the Barcelona '92 3000m steeplechase before inspiring, encouraging, and eventually coaching a young promising kid named Eliud.

After Kipchoge's first major win in a 10km marathon, Mr. Sang gifted him a stopwatch, training gear and crucially, a training program which was instrumental in helping him develop the discipline and dedication he has.

Now Sang is his ever-present mentor, coach, business adviser and friend.

But the family ties go way back, Kipchoge's mother spent a lifetime as a teacher and taught Sang back in the day.

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6. Kipchoge dreams of meeting Barack Obama

Among the thousands of messages that came flooding in for Kipchoge after his historic sub-2 marathon in Vienna, Kipchoge was blown away by this one from Barack Obama.

"It would be my greatest honour if we could meet, and discuss how we can make this world a running world. As a running world is a peaceful world." - Eliud Kipchoge to Barack Obama

7. Kipchoge the environmentalist

Kipchoge is after another world record, he wants Kenya to become the country to plant the most trees in the world.

“Kenyans are not limited," the star runner told KTN Kenya at a sub-two minute tree planting challenge, "I am happy that my 1:59 challenge has inspired the (environment) ministry. We can celebrate for being in the Guinness Book of World records by being the country which has planted the largest number of trees,” he said.

"We want every Kenyan to spend at least one hour 59 minutes to just plant 60 seedlings, only 60."

Kenya has a population of over 51 million people, so this initiative has the potential to see millions of new trees planted.

A day after it was confirmed that Kipchoge would run for a historic 5th title at the 2020 London marathon, the man himself took part in this tree planting event near his Global Sports Communication training camp in Kaptagat.

And back in June, Kipchoge adopted 50.8 hectares of Kaptagat forest, and in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has launched this new tree planting drive.

“I want to leave Kaptagat a greater place,” the Olympic champion said.

He has also helped to raise money for Kenyan wildlife conservation. Athletics champion, environmental champion, Kipchoge does it all.