For a very long time, athletes will remember one Kenyan with long determined legs, Eliud Kipchoge. When Kipchoge was put face to face against the greatest remaining challenge in running, he created a new record science had predicted would only be broken in 2032. He ran a distance of 42 kilometres in less than 2 hours.
To put it into perspective, this is almost the Lilongwe to Mponela distance. Or roughly, from Blantyre central business district to Thyolo Boma.
Having laboured to break his own record the past few years, Kipchoge didn’t know when and where his dream would be realised. But in Vienna, the Kenyan achieved a milestone once believed to be unattainable.
Please understand. Kipchoge ran 26.2 miles in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds. In doing so, he broke a record many believed would never be attained, until Jesus comes. He beat his owned planned record by 10 seconds.
Kipchoge has amassed awards in his life. An eight-time major marathon winner and three-time Olympic medallist, he did this for posterity’s sake and to inspire this and the next generation that everything is possible.
“I ran to show that no human is limited. It’s about leaving a legacy,” said Kipchoge.
When he crossed the finishing line at Vienna’s leafy Prater Park, millions of people who love the sport, were glued to their TVs to see history unfold. In Malawi, I doubt if it was any historical, considering what the country is going through.
With a thick crowd of spectators, including his wife, it is perhaps his words, spoken just after he touched ground, after being lifted into the air by members of his team, that summed up what Kipchoge’s and our lives ought to be.
He said: “Together, when we run, we can make this world a beautiful world.”
Organisers of the event, INEOS, billed the achievement as breaking “the last barrier of modern athletics” and tried to get a hashtag, #nohumanislimited, trending on social media. What made it special was that this was not a normal marathon, it was an event finely tuned, carefully orchestrated for marathon-length run in history. In making history, they gave an opportunity to one individual to make his dreams come true. Which is what life ought to be about.
It is wise to remember that given all support and a favourable climate of affairs, no human is limited. Kipchoge and organisers of the event, including 41 other professional athletes who offered to run behind him in an effort to keep him shielded from wind, have reminded us the age-old wisdom, that alone, we may go fast, but together, we’ll go far.
Kipchoge’s white singlet, specially designed white Nike sneakers built around a carbon-fibre plate and white sleeves on his arms were all for a purpose. An electric timing car driving at 4:34 per mile was in front of Kipchoge. A total of 35 of 41 pacemakers ran in a specially designed aerodynamic formation to protect Kipchoge from even the lightest head wind. A team member on a bicycle periodically pedalled into the group to deliver Kipchoge some food. Not nsima.
In the triumph of the sport, we get reminded that when we work together, bringing the very best of each one of us, nothing is impossible. There’s so much we can achieve as a nation, regardless of our tribes, education and religion if we decided to work with one heart and soul.
In all the children we meet, and the neighbours we live with, there’s something bigger and better waiting to come if only we could help it live.
Life is not just about me. Life is for all of us, just as the community is home for all children and the mother of all dreams and accomplishments.
And wait. When all the other runners saw the finishing line, they fell back to allow Kipchoge to live the moment and show himself to the world, that indeed, no human is limited.
After all is said and done, Kipchonge challenged us with the power of hope. While science has come with a hoard of discoveries, Kipchoge is a reminder that without heart and desire, talent will take us nowhere.