Why Kipkemboi is relishing to pace at London Marathon

Noah Kipkemboi during an interview at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town on September 8, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • In 2011, he joined Rock High School in Tororo, Uganda after his brother ,Eliud Kibet Too, who is also an athlete secured a place for him. He sat his Form Four exams and when he was unable to continue to Form Five, Kipkemboi returned home.
  • That is when he started training after being inspired by what his brother was doing. Kipkemboi joined Complete Sports stable before shifting to Global Sports Communication.

When London Marathon was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kaptagat-based athlete Noah Kipkemboi engaged high gear in training instead of reverse considering the importance of the race.

His mind had been set on the initial April 26 race date, but organisers moved the event to October 4 owing to travel restrictions and Covid-19 health concerns. Now only elite races for men, women and wheelchair athletes will be held in an enclosed loop.

Coronavirus scuttled the global sports calendar that resulted in the cancellation of major events including the Olympic Games that were postponed to next year in Tokyo, Japan.

Kipkemboi is one of the pacemakers for some of the best athletes in the world. Defending champion and world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge (2hours:01 minute:39 seconds), Rotterdam Marathon champion Marius Kipserem, Amsterdam Marathon champion Vincent Kipchumba and 2016 Mumbai Marathon champion Gideon Kipketer will line up on the big day in London.

Noah Kipkemboi (right), Victor Chumo (left) and Eliud Kipchoge train at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on September 8, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

The spotlight will be on Kipchoge, the first man to run a sub-two hours (1:59:40) in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria, last October as he goes head-to-head with his great rival, Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele.

Nation Sport recently caught up with Kipkemboi training at Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Uasin Gishu County. 

Together with his colleagues from the Global Sports Communication stable, the athletes were tying up loose ends as they prepare for the race.

Kipchoge, who is also the Olympic marathon champion, Kipkemboi and Victor Chumo, who was also a pacemaker in Vienna, took turns to set the pace when we found them training at the Kipchoge Stadium.

In an interview with Nation Sport, Kipkemboi said that he is privileged to be among the pacemakers who will be leading some of the best athletes in the world. He is satisfied with his preparations.

“It will not be an easy task because some of the best athletes will be competing in the race. That means the pace will be fast, but I’m ready for the assignment,” said Kipkemboi.

He said that after competitions were cancelled because of the virus in April, he was disappointed. He had to train alone and he followed the Ministry of Health directives on social distancing.

“It was not easy training alone because athletes are used to training in a group. Nevertheless, I stayed focused. I am in good shape. My colleagues and I are putting some final touches. I believe I will perform well in the huge task ahead,” said the runner.

Kipkemboi said he was delighted when he was picked as one of the athletes who will set the pace in London.

“It will be my first time to pace in a major marathon. This has made me work extra hard in training because this race will need effective preparations. I don’t want to disappoint anyone,” he said.

Kipkemboi joined the Global Communications stable in 2017 and has been rising steadily. He was among the athletes who paced for Kipchoge during the sub-two project in Monza, Italy, where he missed the mark.

Kipkemboi was again selected last year among the 41 pacemakers for Kipchoge in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna. Kipkemboi rates the Vienna race as one of the best he has ever participated in.

“That was a good race because it brought together many athletes from different countries for a worthy course,” said Kipkemboi.

Last year, he finished in ninth position in the Lisbon Half Marathon in a personal best of 60:52, before emerging third in Sevenhills Road Race in Netherlands.

Kipkemboi was second during the Kass Half Marathon in 2018 and he was also second in the Kakamega Half Marathon last year.

Kipkemboi was born in 1993 in Legetet, Uasin Gishu County. He went to school at Legetet Primary School and then proceeded to Ndubeneti Secondary School. However, he dropped out of school for lack of fees.

In 2011, he joined Rock High School in Tororo, Uganda after his brother ,Eliud Kibet Too, who is also an athlete secured a place for him. He sat his Form Four exams and when he was unable to continue to Form Five, Kipkemboi returned home.

That is when he started training after being inspired by what his brother was doing. Kipkemboi joined Complete Sports stable before shifting to Global Sports Communication.

brotich@ke.nationmedia.com