What you need to know:
- Pacemakers and elite athletes with their technical support team were in the 56-seater aircraft that landed at the Eldoret International Airport on Saturday to afford the crew of six a day’s rest at Eldoret’s Boma Inn Hotel.
- Tuwei wished the athletes well in the race knowing that they have prepared well ahead of the tough task ahead.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. This is the flight deck, your captain, Julian Mogg, speaking.
“We are soon starting our descent into London Stanstead Airport. Our estimated time of arrival is 7.00am, local time. I hope you have enjoyed the flight.
“On behalf of Oryx Jet and the entire crew on board, we wish to welcome you to London, and wish you all the best at the London Marathon. May the best athlete win. Thank you ladies and gentlemen.”
These most probably will be the words from the cockpit of the Oryx Jet executive travels chartered Boeing 737-500 upon its arrival at the Stanstead Airport in London on Monday.
The special aircraft, hired by London Marathon organisers to fly in elite athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia, took off from Eldoret at 8.15pm Sunday night after the crew had an overnight stay in the “City of Champions.”
With Captain Julian Mogg at the controls, after picking the Kenyan contingent to Sunday’s London Marathon, led by defending champions and world record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei, the executive jet hopped over into Addis Ababa to pick the Ethiopian contingent led by multiple world and Olympic distance running champion Kenenisa Bekele.
It would then make a refueling stop in Athens, Greece, before making the final approach to London Stanstead Airport.
With customised menus, 56 business seats in it’s low-noise cabin, cruising altitude of 37,000 feet, cruising speed of 880 kilometres per hour and bespoke glassware from China, the flight offered the athletes the most comfortable journey they would have wished for ahead on Sunday’s race which will be televised live and exclusively on NTV.
Pacemakers and elite athletes with their technical support team were in the 56-seater aircraft that landed at the Eldoret International Airport on Saturday to afford the crew of six a day’s rest at Eldoret’s Boma Inn Hotel.
Speaking exclusively to Nation Sport, Captain Mogg said that he was delighted to fly athletics champions to London, saying he had only been seeing them on television.
“I’m happy because I will be able to see them during the flight. This (London Marathon) is a much-awaited race worldwide and if I will be free on that day, I will be happy to watch them compete. I’m also happy I will be able to meet both Kipchoge and Bekele,” said Mogg.
At the airport in Eldoret to bid farewell the athletes were Athletics Kenya President Jack Tuwei, Chief Administrative Secretary for Sports Hassan Noor Hassan and Central Rift Athletics Kenya chairman Abraham Mutai, among others.
Tuwei wished the athletes well in the race knowing that they have prepared well ahead of the tough task ahead.
“It’s an honour for you as athletes to be sent a plane by the race organisers and we know as a federation you have trained well despite the coronavirus challenge. We wish you well and we know you are going to defend your titles,” said Tuwei.
Hassan said the government will always support the athletes in various events and giving a hand to those heading to London Marathon was one way of appreciating athletes who have always done the country proud.
“We would have been there to support you as the government but due to logistic issues we didn’t manage to travel. We want to wish you the very best and we know you will defend your titles,” said Hassan.
The athletes, drawn from different corners of the athletics rich region, drove into the airport one by one some showing excitement in their faces longing for the journey ahead.
For some, it has been more than eight months just training at home due to the coronavirus pandemic which affected the sporting world with others travel as far as Nairobi and South Rift region to be able to board the chartered plane.
The Kenyan team consists of world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge, Amsterdam Marathon champion Vincent Kipchumba and Rotterdam Marathon champion Marius Kipserem.
Others in the team includes 2016 Mumbai Marathon champion Gideon Kipketer and late entrant to the list Benson Kipruto.
The women's contingent team consists of the defending champion Brigid Kosgei, 2018 winner Vivian Cheruiyot, world marathon champion Ruth Chepng’etich, Frankfurt Marathon champion Valary Jemeli and debutant Edith Chelimo.
Chepng'etich, who trains in Ngong, Kajiado County, said that she was ready for the battle ahead as she eyes a successful race.
“It will be a tough battle but I have done good training and will be looking forward to a good race despite the stiff challenge from the Ethiopia ladies,” she said.
Last year, Kipchoge bagged victory in a course record of two hours, two minutes and 37 seconds, finishing ahead of Ethiopians Mosinet Geremew (2:02:55) and Mule Wasihun 2:03:16 who were in the second and third positions respectively.
In the women’s category, Kosgei won in 2:18:20 finishing ahead of her compatriot Vivian Cheruiyot who clocked 2:20:14 while Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje sealed the podium in 2:20:51.