Victor Chumo: 'Rabbit' who will lead athletes in London Marathon

Victor Chumo (left) and world Marathon Record holder Eliud Kipchoge train at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on September 8, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Chumo is no slouch when he is running competitively either.
  • He clocked a personal best of 59:58 on his way to clinching the Barcelona Half Marathon on February 16.

Pacesetters are the unsung heroes in athletics.

Theses are the men and women who set up the main contenders in a race for first finishes and records, besides the titles.

Marathon races, run over two hours require meticulous planning, disciplined pacing and tactical awareness.

Enter pacesetters, who, as the name suggest, are used to pace the contenders through the required time lines on the way to a world record, meet record, course record attempt, as the case may be.

The dynamics at the London Marathon that will be held on October 4 will be no different.

The race has attracted easily two of the fastest marathon runners in the history of athletics, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.

Kipchoge needs no introduction. He is the world record holder, reigning Olympic champion and reigning London Marathon champion.

Bekele is the reigning Berlin Marathon champion, his winning time of 2 hours 01 minutes 41 seconds last year just two seconds shy of Kipchoge’s world record of 2:01:39.

Eliud Kipchoge (white vest) with his dream team of pacemakers ahead of INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna on  October 12, 2019. Chumo was one of the pace setters.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Of course Kipchoge has run faster, 1:59:40- during the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria last October.

Victor Chumo was one of the runners who paced Kipchoge to that historic feat. Chumo is indeed a high profile pacemaker.

Nation Sport caught up with Chumo, who is one of the pacesetters tasked with leading the athletes in the London Marathon next month through their splits in the 42 kilometres race with a fast finish the clear objective.

The other Kenyan pacesetters for the London race are Noah Kipkemboi, Eric Kiptanui, Alfred Barkach and Shadrack Kimining.

Kaptagat-based Chumo also paced Kipchoge in his earlier failed mission to run a sub two hours marathon  in Monza, Italy in 2017.

“I’m privileged that I have been selected to pace for some of the best athletes in the world. It is a hard task given that the athletes will always depend on the pacemakers during the race but I’m ready for the task because it’s not my first time to help top athletes run fast times,” said Chumo.

In fact, pacing Eliud Kipchoge in his first attempt to break the 2-hour marathon barrier in a project dubbed “Breaking2”, and sponsored by Nike, was Chumo’s first major assignment as a rabbit.

Victor Chumo (left) and world Marathon Record holder Eliud Kipchoge train at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on September 8, 2020.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

He trained hard for the assignment and was as disappointed as Kipchoge when the mission failed.

Kipchoge missed the magical barrier by only 25 seconds, after running 2:00:25.

Chumo joined Global Sports Communication stable in May 2019 and here again he was chosen among 41 pacesetters in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge that saw Kipchoge become the first and only man to run a marathon in under two hours.

“Pacing Eliud in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge was one of my best experience in my athletics career and I will remember that day for the rest of my life.

“It was a great feeling, you know 30 years, 20, 10 years from now, when people will be talking about the history-making event in Vienna, I know I will be part of that history,” said Chumo.

But Chumo is not your ordinary athlete.

Unlike many of his compatriots, he resigned from Kenya Defence Forces to concentrate solely on athletics.

“I have never regretted that decision. Being in the discipline forces was so demanding. I had to resign after five years. This has given me an opportunity to train well and I’m happy with my career so far,” he said.

Chumo, who hails from Metkei in Elgeyo Marakwet County, said that being a pacemaker in a Majors marathon is no walk in the park, and one has to train just as hard as the contestants.

“The training programme for a race is typically three months. For example, knowing that I'm pacing in London in October, my preparation started in earnest in July..

Victor Chumo during an interview at Global Sports Communication Camp in Kaptagat, Elgeyo-Marakwet County on September 2, 2020.

“When I step on the road in London next month I will be running like I am competing in a long run,” said Chumo.

This year's London Marathon will be raced in a looped course due to coronavirus challenged.

Only elite athletes will race.

No problem for Chumo as he has paced in such course twice, in Monza and Vienna and he feels he is ready for the mission.

Chumo is no slouch when he is running competitively either.

He clocked a personal best of 59:58 on his way to clinching the Barcelona Half Marathon on February 16.

“I started so well this year but the coronavirus pandemic messed my competition plans. However, that won’t deter me from working hard in training. I will be ready for the London Marathon,” he concluded with a smile, not unlike that of a hunter spotting a quarry.

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