Updated 22 August 2007
Eliud KIPCHOGE, Kenya (3000m/5000m/cross country)
Born 5 November 1984, Kapsisiywa, near Kapsabet, Nandi Dist., Rift Valley Prov., Kenya.
Lives mainly in Kapsisiywa. Trains at Global Sports camp, Kaptagat (30km east of Eldoret). Based in Nijmegen, Netherlands, during track season.
Completed Kaptel Secondary School 1999.
Engaged to be married. Daughter Lynne Jebet born 2006.
Manager: Global Sports Communications. Coaches: Patrick Sang, Joseph Chelimo
Native language: Nandi (Kalenjin). Last of five children. Parents small-scale farmers.
Eliud Kipchoge ran casually in school, never reaching even district-level competition, and began training on his own after leaving school. Entering local cross country races in 2001, he placed 2nd overall in jackpot series of competitions sponsored by Eveready, attracting the attention of manager Jos Hermens.
The following year, Kipchoge again just missed winning the cross country jackpot but he triumphed in the junior race at Kenya's trials for the 2002 World Cross Championships in Dublin, for which he was selected. But he fell ill beforehand and finished 5th. After winning the 5,000m trial for the 2002 World Junior Championships on the track he fell ill again but this time more seriously (malaria) and he did not travel to Jamaica.
After recovering, Kipchoge’s manager took him to Europe for three late-season races in which he demonstrated his true potential - Rovereto (13:14.20 for 2nd), Berlin (13:13.03 for 9th) and Cagliari, where he won at 3000 in 7:46.34.
In 2003, Kipchoge again won Kenya's junior trials for the World Cross Country Championships and, healthy this time, he won in Lausanne after a duel with Uganda's Boniface Kiprop. He also won the Kenyan cross country series, earning a share of a 1million Kenyan shillings jackpot (Kipchoge's portion: Ksh. 250,000, equal to about 3,000 euros).
He launched his track season with 1500 PB in Rehlingen (3:36.17), followed by a breakthrough 3rd place at 5000m behind Kenenisa Bekele and Sammy Kipketer in Oslo (12:52.61, topping World Junior Record of countryman Philip Mosima by just over a second). Then came another sub-13 for 4th in Paris GL (12:55.52) and a surprise 3rd in Kenya's brutally competitive World Championships trials (13:25.5 at 1500 metres altitude), ahead of such established stars as Sammy Kipketer, Benjamin Limo, Richard Limo and Charles Kamathi.
The real giant-slaying came at the 2003 World Championships in Paris. In what was expected to be a duel between new world 10,000m champion Bekele and four-time 1500m champion Hicham El Guerrouj, Kipchoge was still among the eight-man lead pack when El Guerrouj launched his finishing drive with 900 metres to go. Streaking around the final turn of the 53-second last lap, Kipchoge was in second position, two metres behind the leader, when Bekele, in third, began to accelerate.
Kipchoge moved out at just the right moment, forcing Bekele wide and pulling to the shoulder of El Guerrouj. Then, in a battle reminiscent of the Sydney Olympic 1500m, Kipchoge inched ahead of the fully extended Moroccan just before the line, much as his compatriot Noah Ngeny had done three years earlier. His winning time (12:52.79) was a championship record.
Kipchoge began 2004 with three 2nd place finishes in cross country but won the Kenyan trial for the World Cross Country Championships 12 km, choosing the longer distance because he regarded the winner at that distance as the "real" World Champion, and he aimed to be nothing less. In the heavy going of Brussels, he stayed with Bekele and the Ethiopian juggernaut longer than anyone else, but wound up 4th behind their medal sweep.
Kipchoge raced sparingly before the 2004 Athens Olympics, mainly under-distance. He set PBs at 1500 (3:33.20, 1st at Hengelo, beating all three of Kenya’s 2004 Olympic 1500 finalists) and one mile (3:50.40, 3rd in London) and recorded a solid 7:33.37 win at 3000m in Doha. He won Kenya’s Olympic trial at 5000 (13:14.0, six seconds ahead of John Kibowen) and notched a big PB win at 5000 in Rome six days later (12:46.53) ahead of all the top Ethiopians except Bekele.
As most observers expected, the Athens 5000 final turned out to be a rematch of the brilliant three-man Paris race, this time at a slower pace that enabled miler El Guerrouj to kick away from Bekele and Kipchoge, who had to settle for bronze (13:15.10). Five days later, he took out his frustrations on the track in the Brussels GP, blasting a PB 7:27.72 for 3000m, the year’s best mark. Two weeks after that, in the World Athletics Final, he repeated the win at 3000m, this time kicking decisively off a slower pace (7:38.67).
Kipchoge began the 2005 cross country season with a gun-to-tape win against a strong field in Edinburgh and a similarly dominating performance in the 12 km race at Kenya’s World Cross Country Championships trials. Going into the Championships in St. Etienne/St. Galmier, the Kenyan was thought to have the best chance in years to defeat cross country master Bekele, who was grieving over the death of his fiancée two months earlier.
The two ran shoulder to shoulder for five of the 12km race’s six laps, but when Bekele accelerated with 2000m to go, Kipchoge could not respond, and staying with the hard driving Bekele for the first 10km cost him an almost certain silver medal as he faded to 5th.
Kipchoge ran just seven track races before the Helsinki World Championships, the best being two 3000m wins in Doha and Hengelo in May (7:28.56 and 7:30.56) and a 12:52.76 over 5000 in Rome in July. In Helsinki he faced neither of his two Paris or Athens rivals, with El Guerrouj having retired and Bekele defending his 10,000m title only. The race seemed Kipchoge’s to lose, but instead of driving from the front as he had in cross country, he uncharacteristically allowed the pace to dawdle, ignoring his own sage observation from earlier in the year, "Always in the slower races anyone can win."
A mad last-lap scramble left Kipchoge out of the medals in 4th (13:33.04), less than half a second behind the winner, his countryman Benjamin Limo. He closed out the disappointing season with a fast win in the Brussels Golden League 5000 (12:50.22) and a more modest 2nd in the World Athletics Final 3000 (7:38.95).
Kipchoge chose to forego both the World Cross Country Championships and the Commonwealth Games early in 2006, reportedly because he was unhappy with the official and unofficial reaction to his performances in St. Etienne and Helsinki. At the World Indoor Championships, in Moscow, he faced Bekele again, this time over 3000m, which seemed better suited to Kipchoge, who had just recorded a new indoor 1500 PB of 3:36.25 in Birmingham.
As it turned out, however, the Ethiopian won decisively off a slow pace (7:39.32) and 2nd went to the Kenyan-turned-Qatari Saif Saeed Shaheen, the 3000m Steeplechase world record holder. Kipchoge’s time: 7:42.58, nearly 10 seconds slower than the indoor PB (7:33.07) he had run six weeks earlier. The bronze medal was small consolation.
The nine outdoor track races Kipchoge ran in the remainder of 2006 yielded six podium finishes and a couple of times (7:30.48 and12:54.94) that would count as spectacular for a lesser runner, but they added up to an undistinguished season for the Kenyan. A brighter note came on the last day of the year at Madrid’s San Silvestre 10km road race. On a net downhill point-to-point course (55m elevation loss), Kipchoge recorded a stunning 26:54, winning a duel with newly crowned IAAF World Road Running champion, Zersenay Tadesse, of Eritrea.
Kipchoge has raced sparingly in 2007, skipping indoors altogether and running just one cross country and five track races, the most notable of which were a dazzling 10,000m debut in Hengelo (26:49.02 for 2nd, 0.3 seconds behind Sileshi Sihine) and a comfortable 3rd in the 5000 at Kenya’s trials for the World Championships (13:24.4 at 1700 m altitude). His 5000 m rivals in Osaka will have to judge whether Kipchoge has simply been laying low this year.
Kipchoge shares his name with his Nandi tribesman, Kipchoge Keino, widely seen as the founding father of Kenyan athletics. The name means "born near the grain storage shed."
Kipchoge's village, Kapsisiywa, is home to the Talai clan, from whose members come the Nandi ritual experts, known as orkoiik. Their chief traditional responsibility was to offer advice and ritual blessing for military expeditions. At the turn of the last century, the British colonial administration held the Nandi orkoiik responsible for the tribe's fierce resistance to colonial rule -- by far the most violent and protracted in the early history of the colony.
3000m/ 5000m: 2002 - 7:46.34 / 13:13.03; 2003 - 7:30.91 / 12:52.61 (WJR); 2004 - 7:27.72 / 12:46.53; 2005 – 7:28.56 / 12:50.22; 2006 – 7:30.48 / 12:54.94; 2007 – 7:33.06 /13:02.10.
1500m: 3:33.20 (2004)
Mile: 3:50.40 (2004)
3000m: 7:27.72 (2004)
5000m: 12:46.53 (2004)
10,000m: 26:49.02 (2007)
2002: 5th World Cross Country Championships (Juniors)
2003: 1st World Cross Country Championships (Juniors)
2003: 1st World Championships (5000m)
2003: 1st World Athletics Final (5000m)
2004: 4th World Cross Country Championships
2004: 3rd Olympic Games (5000m)
2004: 1st World Athletics Final (3000m)
2005: 5th World Cross Country Championships
2005: 4th World Championships (5000m)
2006: 3rd World Indoor Championships (3000m)
Prepared by John Manners for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2007.