Eliud Kipchoge: How I will attack my third Olympic marathon title

Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya celebrates after winning in the men's elite race at the Tokyo Marathon 2021 in Tokyo on March 6, 2022.

Photo credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon | AFP

What you need to know:

  • ‘I’m the happiest man because I’ve broken the world record twice and it will remain in the books forever and it cannot be erased at any time’
  • ‘I have shown people the way (by running a sub two-hour marathon and breaking the marathon record twice)… it’s for them to dare to try, to think and to go for it!’

To all of us out here, Eliud Kipchoge is a legend.

He is the master of distance running.

He is the G.O.A.T. – the Greatest of All Time!

But to the man himself, Eliud Kipchoge is still work in progress.

He’s not yet done and has barely scratched the surface is as far as stretching the human limit is concerned.

He is still discovering himself.

In an international media interview at midday on Thursday, Kenya’s double Olympic marathon champion laid bare his plans for next year’s Paris Olympic Games, stressing that his mental training will be as important as physical preparation for the August 10 race.

A screen grab of Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge and Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands during their media call with global journalists on December 21, 2023. Both Hassan and Kipchoge will compete at the Tokyo Marathon on March 3, 2024.

Photo credit: Elias Makori | Nation Media Group

Speaking to journalists from global media houses, including Nation Sport, from his monastic Kaptagat base, Kipchoge said there is obvious pressure as he targets to become the first man to win three back-to-back Olympic marathon titles in Paris.

Kipchoge is an avid reader, and reading is very much at the heart of his mental training ahead of any huge mission.

And his current choice of books gives a feel of what is really in his mind.

He is currently reading ‘The Art of People’ by ‘New York Times’ best-selling author Dave Kerpen of Port Washington, New York.

“Self-awareness is the fundamental building block of the art of people. You can’t understand and influence others until you fully understand yourself at a deep level,” Kerpen writes, perhaps a vivid illustration of Kipchoge’s current mindset.

Double Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge during a training session in Kaptagat this year. He will compete at the Tokyo Marathon next March.

Photo credit: NN Running Team |

After reading ‘The Art of People’, Kipchoge has lined up another motivational book ‘Never Eat Alone’ by Keith Ferrazzi, supported by Tahl Raz, another best-selling business classic.

In this book, Ferrazzi spells out what distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else and outlines the timeless strategies shared by the world’s most connected individuals, including Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, Vernon Jordan and the Dalai Lama.

Just before diving into his current read, Kipchoge just completed leadership expert John C. Maxwell’s book ‘Failing Forward’ that explains the main reasons people fail, how to master fear instead of being mastered by it, and that positive benefits can accompany negative experiences.

At 39, Kipchoge is seeking to conquer fear and complete a hat-trick of Olympic marathon gold medals to continue influencing other athletes after him.

His strategy is certainly along the lines of Kerpen’s and Ferrazzi’s schools of thought and very much in line with Maxwell’s philosophy.

In Tokyo in 2021, Kipchoge joined a now three-man exclusive, elite class of double, back-to-back Olympic marathon champions.

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after winning the men's marathon final

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after winning the men's marathon final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Sapporo on August 8, 2021.

Photo credit: Giuseppe Cacace | AFP

The other two men in this league being Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia, who won the 42-kilometre gold medal at the 1960 (Rome) and 1964 (Tokyo) Games and Waldemar Cierpinski of the former East Germany, a double winner in 1976 (Montreal) and 1980 (Moscow).

The third Olympic marathon gold is something Kipchoge wants so badly, and Kerpen’s book – perhaps appropriately - offers “11 simple people skills that will get you everything you want.”

The legend concedes that he is under immense pressure to win in Paris and wouldn’t wish to be drawn into the sub two-hour debate on the highway to Paris.

Not for now at least.

Athletics fans during Berlin Marathon Viewing Street Party

German Ambassador to Kenya Sebastian Groth (centre), Uasin Gishu County Governor Jonathan Bii (second right), and athletic fans during celebration after Eliud Kipchoge won Berlin Marathon, during a Viewing Street Party organised by Nation Media Group's NTV on a giant screen belonging to Uasin Gishu County government on Uganda highway in Eldoret town on September 24, 2023.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

On Wednesday, NN Running Team and Global Sports Communications, Kipchoge’s stable, announced the marquee entries of Kipchoge and Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan for the March 3 Tokyo Marathon, the pair’s final race ahead of the Paris Games.

This will be Kipchoge’s 22nd marathon, with 18 wins, including 11 World Marathon Majors titles, tucked under his decorated belt.

He has twice broken the world record, both times at the Berlin Marathon, and he became the first runner in history to break the two-hour barrier as part of the INEOS 1:59 project in Vienna in October, 2019, running one hour 59.40 seconds.

Kipchoge’s choice of the March 3 Tokyo Marathon means he will not face Kelvin Kiptum, his successor as world marathon record holder, any time before the Olympics in Paris.

Kiptum improved on Kipchoge’s 2:01:09 world record by clocking 2:00:35 at last October’s Chicago Marathon and has announced he will go for a sub two-hour time at the Rotterdam Marathon on April 14 next year.

“What I have done will be there forever. It is a motivation and I want everybody to break the world record.

“Sport is about people breaking records all the time, and that’s the beauty of sport,” Kipchoge said on Thursday in reference to a question on the sub two-hour debate and the fact that he lost his world record to Kiptum.

“I’m the happiest man because I’ve broken the world record twice, it will remain in the books forever. It cannot be erased at any time.

“You remember in 1954 when the four-minute mile was broken (by Roger Bannister, running 3:59.4) - one month down the line 20 athletes broke the four-minute barrier in the mile…

“… But I have shown people the way… it’s for them to dare to try, to think and to go for it.”

“Winning (the Olympics) for the third time will be good for me, good for the world and good for the next generation…

“I’m really crossing my fingers and will accept whatever happens (in Paris) because this is sport -but I have fixed my mind on becoming the first human being to win three consecutive Olympic titles and that will be great for the world.”

Tigist Assefa and Eliud Kipchoge

Winner of the women's race Ethiopia's Tigist Assefa (left) and winner of the men's race Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge celebrate on the podium with their trophies after the Berlin Marathon on September 24, 2023 in Berlin, Germany. Assefa smashed the women's marathon world record in Berlin, winning in 2hr 11min 53sec, more than two minutes ahead of the previous mark. Kipchoge's fifth win in Berlin takes him past Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie's four victories.

Photo credit: Tobias Schwarz  | AFP

But he emphasised that his mind is firmly fixed on running at the 2024 Tokyo Marathon for the moment and nothing else, having chosen the Japanese race ahead of the other European and American spring races as his final competition ahead of Paris.

“I don’t want to contradict my mind… My mind is on Tokyo… you don’t chase two rabbits at the same time,” he added in his vintage philosophical delivery.

“I discussed (with team) about all the other races, but Tokyo took all the credit. Number one because of the timeline. We always say respecting time is not being punctual but respecting your responsibility.

“So, running in Tokyo early in the year is respecting the responsibility of running at the Olympic Games.”

Kipchoge holds the Tokyo Marathon course record from his last visit in 2021 at 2:02:40.

Also on Thursday’s conference call was Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan, the London and Chicago marathon champion, who quickly added that in her assessment, only three men can dip under two hours at present time – Kipchoge, Kiptum and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.

“We don’t know about the future, but for now, Eliud, Kelvin and Kenenisa Bekele are the three men capable of running sub-two,” she quipped.

London Marathon champion, Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan, during training in the Netherlands recently. She will compete at the Tokyo Marathon next March.

Photo credit: NN Running Team |

Meanwhile, Kipchoge noted that a third Olympic marathon title will be an important lesson for humanity, noting that his training programme for Tokyo has so far been flawless.

“Winning (the Olympics) for the third time will be a good foundation to show longevity,” he said, also underscoring his choice of Tokyo as his final pre-Games competition.

“Training is going on well, we have good weather for training – it’s sunny, it’s windy, but all in all, it’s a good day.

“Preparations are well on the way and we are climbing the percentage in a good way… I trust that by January all will be well in the pipeline.

“My decision to run in Tokyo is due to the Paris Olympic Games, because it gives me more time to train my mind and to train my muscles to parade myself in Paris next year.”

He noted that the Japanese running culture was an added advantage in his decision to run in Tokyo.

“What sticks in my mind about Tokyo is the culture that people run, the culture that Japanese people love fitness, that culture that they embody running and the marathon…

“One day, if we can translate the culture of the Japanese in the whole world, we will make this world a running world.”

Sifan Hassan

Netherlands' Sifan Hassan runs to the line to win the women's race at the finish of the 2023 London Marathon in central London on April 23, 2023.


Photo credit: Justin Tallis | AFP

Kipchoge’s choice of a March Tokyo Marathon also means he will have to go a bit slow on the Christmas and New Year’s festivities as they fall on a crucial phase of his training.

But he was quick to add that he will manage the balancing act between family and training.

“The festivities are coming, and preparations are underway as Tokyo is around the corner. But I will stick with my programme and I will be training all through the festivities.

“I will be with my family but I will respect my training and put my mind and all my energy towards the Tokyo Marathon.”

For the first time, Olympic organisers have introduced mass running in the Olympic marathon race, meaning that about 50,000 recreational runners will join the elites chasing Olympic glory, something Kipchoge says will offer him extra motivation on the streets of Paris.

“The beauty of the Paris Olympic marathon is that the masses will be running and the race will start on the streets of Paris and end on the streets of Paris,” he observed.

“The best thing is that those 50,000 people will become Olympians… The Olympics is not about winning, it’s about participation.

“It’s a huge motivation for me to run with a mass of 50,000 people who will join us and become Olympians next year,” he noted.

Kipchoge, who is also the 2003 world 5,000 metres champion, will head to the Japanese capital fresh off a record fifth win at this year’s Berlin Marathon.

His time of 2:02:42 there means six of the 10 fastest official marathons ever have been run by Kenya’s G.O.A.T. from Nandi County.